Project Management – Communicating Successfully
By Mandy McGill, Northwest University
When it comes to communicating effectively on the project, the project manager must keep in mind that communication needs to be ongoing and include all people in the project. Some analysis needs to be done before the project begins, as well as some processes put into place to ensure constant communication. First, take a look at the organizational process assets. Does the organization already have a system in place for communicating, such as internal email or daily stand ups (quick meetings where people can update). If you haven’t worked for the company in the past, talk with some of your team members to see if they have any lessons learned they can share.
One way to determine all of the different communication channels is to use the equation n(n-1)/2. For example; Susan, Joe and Samantha are all on a sub team. You have three communication channels.
However, when you add one more team member, Mateo, you now have six channels, not the four that one would assume. 4(4-1)/2=6.
Consider how many team members you have and the amount of communication channels in your team. This is helpful because often things can be misconstrued in the lines of communication. For example, a conversation took place with you and Mateo in regards to the possibility of a new SME team member coming aboard to help with IT because you are noticing a lag in time. Your hope is that this will allow Mateo to be meticulous in the job he is very good at. This frustrated Mateo because he feels he is able to get the job done himself. Instead of sharing this with you, he tells Susan. At lunch Susan shares with Joe and pretty soon all of the team thinks that you don’t believe Mateo can get the job done. This was not your intention or belief at all! Lesson learned. Be considerate of the communication channels and very aware of the possibility of a spread of misguided information.
Using a RACI chart can be very helpful in promoting healthy communication in your team. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. A RACI chart looks something like this.
This chart ensures that at least one person is in charge of each category, as well as helps others see their role in assisting the responsible person in getting the job done. This also helps prevent communication that does not need to take place and only interrupts the flow.
Another way to improve communication is by preparing a stakeholder analysis. (Remember, a stakeholder is anyone who will be affected by the project, or who will affect the outcome of the project). Make a chart with a list of all stakeholders, and the probable affect they will have on the project. There are many ways to map a stakeholder chart. Be sure to include each stakeholder and the level of concern, or ability to influence the project. For example, you are the PM for making chocolate chip cookies. Here is your stakeholders chart.
Your husband and your six year old both have a lot riding on this project. They want cookies! Fred Meyer does have some influence on your ability to make cookies since they stock all the ingredients. Paula Dean has something at stake, since eventually, if no one used her recipes she would be out of business and so on. You can see how important it is to quantify your stakeholders and then base your level of communication off of their level of influence on the project.
Another way you can increase communication in regards to problems on the project is by creating a fishbone diagram. The following gives you an idea of how you can diagram a problem to find its root cause. This assists you in the communication process because it determines who needs to help fix the problem.
In terms of communicating at meetings, be sure you are using time very wisely. Constantly be in a mindset of bringing up variances and the need to shift gears. And remember that communication is very much about listening. Listen carefully in your meetings and in your one on ones. Ask questions to make sure you have a complete understanding of the other person. Using these tools and putting processes in place to ensure daily effective communication will contribute to a very successful project.
Northwest University opened to students on October 1, 1934. It is a regionally accredited institution awarding associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees.
Note: Implicit permission was given to republish this post, as the article was not copyrighted.