Communication is always important within project management, but particularly at the beginning of the project. Here we look at what the main communication issues are at the start of a project in more detail.
Communication is important in all companies, businesses, organisations and of course, within project management. It is important all the way through a project, but particularly at the beginning of the project.
This is because at the beginning of the project, you are creating your own mini company culture. Of course you aren’t building a company, but you are making your very own dream team who may be working together for years depending on the project. So there will be dynamics between the team, and a unique micro-culture which you are creating. The reason you are the creator is because you are project manager, so no matter how organic the relationships and dynamics are within the group, you ultimately have control over how these exchanges will play out. You also have control over the stimulus for productivity, enthusiasm and positivity. So it is indeed – your responsibility to create a micro-culture that positively bursts with communication.
How to Avoid Communication Issues?
From before the very first meeting, and during the first meeting make it a top priority to ensure every team member knows exactly what is occurring with the project. They might not need to know about all outside events, so be sure to consider who needs to know what. At the very least they should understand their own goals and objectives. This is also a good time to consider how you might communicate with your team as a whole. You can email them and message them individually, but there should be one place that has dates, timescales, milestones and details of the project for the whole team to see, so everyone shares the same information.
Within your micro-culture you should also think about encouraging cooperation as part of your communication strategy. You don’t just want your team to communicate with you, you want them to communicate with each other; to help and support each other and avoid common communication issues. There should be no sense of competition, only a shared sense of pride.
Appreciating Different Types Of Project Communication
It is important from the very beginning to understand that everyone is individual and everyone responds differently to different learning styles and to different forms of communication. Your incredible slideshow presentation about the project could have helped a lot of your group grasp the end goal, but some may have just not responded to that particular type of learning. Try to encourage chats, visual references, audio references and written correspondence, understanding that some may have a stronger preference for certain communication types than others. This is particularly true if a team member has not used a particular tool before, like Dropbox or Google Drive.
If someone is used to working alone, in a certain way, or used to not sharing information, you have to guide them to work your way, and where possible, work around certain preferences or strengths they have. For example: they might prefer to work alone, but have no problem writing up a brief of what they have achieved each day and sharing it via email. Work with them and encourage them to open up – how they do that can be different for each person. The priority is in the openness, not in how information is shared.
Throughout all of your project management training courses you will hear about project communication, so there’s no doubt you already know the importance of it. However, as a PM you also know constant self improvement is important, so trying out new communication strategies and re-evaluating how communicative you are is important.