Split Second Communication

By Drew Stevens, Ph.D.

It only takes a moment for frustrations to flare due to inappropriate communication. From the wording in an email, to body language during meetings, communication for project managers is daunting. The single largest issue of project management is communication in order to ensure all systems and personnel are functioning at maximum efficiency.

Ironically, if communication is so important, why then is it such as issue to communicate. There are numerous reason but suffice to say, the relationship dilemma boils down to two premises 1) trust of the work-team and 2) flow management. Projects function well when communication is readily available and candid. Here are some tips to help manifest such behavior.

The Green Light – When projects begin, it is vital for the project manager to immediately implement project milestones and accountables. Although it seems apparent, many teams work together so often there is an assumption of “milestone identity”. Do not assume, project managers must constantly communicate to staff and let them know imperative pieces of information.

Cubicle Conundrum – Look at office workspaces from the ceiling down to the floor and all those cubicles look like isolated mazes. Sometimes this is indicative of projects teams work on. Do not build silos, projects flow easier when ALL know what is going on even if is appears trivial. Do not withhold information.

Political Power – There are some individuals that desire to withhold information for personal and professional gain. There is a company [nameless] wherein a recent merger has all protecting nest eggs during a very large datacenter expansion.  When this occurs project managers must create the necessary disciplines and actions to keep the information moving. Politics has no business in projects.

Beware the Net – It is amazing with the proliferation of the Internet and its staple in business how individuals still initiate gaffs in communication. And with the increase of social media, one might believe people to be more careful. Simply put, read before you send. An individual meant to forward a negative email about a co-worker to a friend, instead, she replied to the original email! First if you have nothing good to say, then do not write it. Second, fondle your message, review it and then send it. Do not send the first thing that emanates from your fingers. If you are uncertain save it and return to it later.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic – Remember those words when you were attending school. It is incredible how individuals quickly forget. Review your work, check your spelling and use a dictionary. Laziness will show in your written work.

Concise is King – Astonishing as it may seem, give people white space and they will fill it. In the world of the Internet being succinct is better than writing the next great novel. Keep emails short and to the point. Use bullets for easier reading, brevity and most important keep things pragmatic.

Give ‘em Hell – Something about the use of electronic media seems to allow personal attacks and things that might not be stated directly. First, electronic information is to be used to quickly communicate project updates and supply status. The use of email and social media to damage and harass individuals has no place in the business world. Individuals on the work team that do must be immediately disciplined. The morale buster for any work team is the individual that openly and constantly ridicules.

When it comes to project management the single point of interface is unbiased and open communication. In an age where things are moving so quickly communication is imperative for project management success. Simply using one or two of these suggestions can positively alter your project team- in a split second!

©2009. Drew Stevens PhD. All Rights Reserved.

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