Communicate More Effectively and More Often

By Pamela A. Scott

During tough times, people tend to hunker down, pray for the best, and expect the worst. That’s where you, as a PMP, come in.

People look to you for information and guidance. Therefore, you should be communicating with your people more often and more effectively. When our brains lack information, such as the status of a project, our brains make the information up. And it’s always negative.

Nobody’s uninformed brain is thinking, “Boy, Tom is on top of things with our project. I will just sit back and relax and not worry.” It’s not going to happen.

Here are some steps you can take to make communication more successful in your projects. These ideas will also help build morale and foster teamwork.

1. Communicate with your team members and clients often and regularly. Address any rumors immediately. Get a grip on the gossip grapevine. Address their fears before they have even voiced them.

2. To the extent that you can, communicate with them face-to-face. Face-to-face is the most effective way to communicate. That allows each participant to read body language, hear vocal inflection, ask questions and get immediate responses. Use free services such as Skype to go face-to-face with someone not in your office.

The next option is to call people. Don’t communicate more by sending more emails. You need to use the telephone and hear what their concerns are. Remember that email is the least effective way to communicate.

3. Ask your staff to identify stupid communication practices. In one company I worked with, twice a year we had to fill out a form telling how many miles we lived from the office. No one did it on time, and it was a costly, administrative nightmare. After some digging, we learned the form was created 30 years earlier to deal with a problem employee. The form was eliminated.

Make this task a game. Get groups to compete to find inefficient communication practices. Reward the winner with gasoline or restaurant cards or some free time off.

4. Collect success stories from your staff. Have people interview individuals about something they accomplished on the job—how they handled an irate client, how they resolved a dispute among fellow employees, how they created a new product or service to satisfy a client.

The idea is to get people talking about the good experiences and to share those experiences so others can learn from them. These success stories can also be used in marketing and recruiting. Play them up in your internal newsletter or intranet.

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