The Project Management Institute reports that ineffective communication leads to project failure one third of the time and compromises a project’s budget half of the time.
This clearly indicates that effective communication is at the heart of project success – however, improving communication can be a little trickier than it sounds. To this end, the Three Cs of Communication – Be Clear, Be Concise and Be Concrete can help.
By including the tips below in your project communication plan, you will be able to better communicate your goals to your team – and your team will be able to give you the feedback that you need in order to better manage them.
Ask – what is the purpose of your communication? If you’re not completely sure, your co-workers won’t be either. Make sure that you have a clear goal in your mind when you’re addressing a colleague and always know the purpose of the meeting. Try wherever possible to use simple language and focus on the meeting’s ultimate outcome. Check in with your teammates after the meeting to make sure that they fully understood the ideas that you were trying to communicate.
Here are a few strategies that you can use to help facilitate clarity:
* Opt for face-to-face conversations – generally speaking, people who have face-to-face conversations understand the ideas being presented much quicker and build better relationships than those who use computer communications (i.e. Skype, email). While phone calls and emails are unavoidable at times, try to have in-person meetings wherever possible.
* Choose your medium carefully. If face-to-face meetings are out of the question, ask your employees how they would like to be given their tasks i.e. would they like to read it, hear it or watch it? – focus on their needs, not just what you prefer.
* Always ask your teammates to paraphrase – there’s no better way to make sure that your message really got across than asking your team members to put your ideas into their own words.
Use project management software to communicate your goals. Not only can the software help to organize project phases, it can also highlight any areas where your teammates should be focusing their efforts.
Regardless of the situation, always imagine that you are talking to your company’s CEO, a co-worker and an intern at the same time – this will steer you towards communicating what stage your project is in and what the next step is to a broad audience. Concise communication means getting to the point, without diluting your words with un-needed extras.
For example; an intern will most likely need an easy 1, 2, 3 explanation of where the project is, where it’s going, and what tasks they need to complete to get there. On the other hand, a CEO will probably want more detail as to how it relates to other company projects and goals. Naturally, the emphasis of your communication will shift, depending on who you’re talking to, but you don’t want to pad out your communication/add extra content for your CEO, your co-worker, or your intern. Use direct language – remember that not everyone will understand acronyms and jargon.
When communicating, you choose whether you want to be abstract or concrete. Abstract communicators leave space for ambiguity and interpretation, whereas concrete communicators focus on phrases and terms that stay the same, no matter what kind of language is used. Use concrete language to ground your abstract ideas, for example; instead of saying “I need you to be more reliable with your timesheets,” say, “I need your timesheets to be completed by 5PM on Fridays.” In this instance, the ambiguous term “reliable” is solved with a very clear action item and deadline. Here are a few tips to help you with concrete communications:
* Use concrete words – emphasize places, people, dates and numbers. Use unambiguous details.
* Completely remove abstract language from your vocabulary, these terms include “successful,” “fast,” “hard work,” and “integrity.” Try to avoid using any language that describes something that cannot immediately be perceived with the five senses.
* If in doubt, appeal to tangible communication. Use a project management software system to help team members visualize where the project is going.
In conclusion, quality communication is key to great project management. If you need help to get there, Off Peak Training offers a 35 hour online PMP® project management training course – get the training that you want, when you want it and learn at your own pace! Find out more: https://www.offpeaktraining.com/project_management-professional_pmp_training/