Communication between team members does’t show up on a Gantt chart. It doesn’t get you words of praise from the big boys upstairs. It doesn’t have the same kind of attractiveness as other subjects in project management. But it is crucial to getting to delivery. If your team is not acting in unison, your project isn’t going to work. How do you keep the team on the same page? By ensuring effective communication. Here are some tips – but first, a quick reminder on the three steps of effective communication:
- Use project management software with communication tools. The more programs you use, the more things get lost in the noise. Let’s say your comms are on Slack, but the Gantt is on MS Project, and tasks are in Trello – that’s a lot of different places for details to get lost! You want a one stop shop where your team members are working in the same space, especially when they don’t work in the same place.
- Keep channels clear. Especially if you use Slack. The more clutter to be found in a group conversation, the easier it is for a key detail to slip between the cracks. People scan more than they read to begin with, so you want to keep outside comments to a bare minimum – if not away entirely.
- Hold meetings regularly, and go around the room. Make sure everyone speaks. You want to create meetings where people talk, not listen! That is the best way for a project manager to be keyed in to what is actually going on at the front lines.
- Talk to people! Visit their workspaces as much as possible. Talk face to face. Shoot the breeze for ten minutes a day with everyone you work with. It makes communication easier – when you’re an approachable manager, people will approach you! And if you’re not, they’ll think twice, wasting valuable time when there is an issue that is time sensitive and needs to be dealt with.
- Lead by example. Talk things out with your team. Make things as clear as possible. Model the three steps of effective communication, and your team will learn how to do it from you. Make your communications, whether email, Slack, in app, or in person, examples for others to follow. Use a personal touch, but stay professional. People learn from what they see.
Streamlining the project management environment helps with team communication, and modeling effective communication will increase its use among the team.