Friday, May 06, 2016

Effective Communication

I am indebted to Tom Hussey, who suggested I expand on the 'what we can do' section of my white paper on Why Projects Really Fail. So that's what I will be doing over the next few weeks. He also mentioned that poor communication has been a problem on many projects he has worked on so that's where I'll start.

Poor Communication
Communication is a basic leadership skill. If you can't communicate then you can't be an effective leader. Poor communication skills (in the project manager) was the third most frequent cause cited for project failure in my early research and I still believe it is relevant today. So that has to be the starting point. If a project manager has poor communication skills it is imperative that they get some skills development training. If you are that project manager then ask for it. If you are not, then tell that project manager (tactfully of course) that they would benefit from it. So what does good communications look like?

Good Communication
It starts with a communication plan and if you don't know what one looks like it's covered on page 136 of 'Effective Project Management in easy steps'. If you can't afford the £10.99 (or usually a bit less on Amazon), let me know and I'll send you a PDF of the chapter as a taster! But of course it's not just a question of producing a communications plan and then forgetting it. Good communications looks like regular and effective communication to each of the stakeholder groups, giving them just what they need to keep them informed, but with links provided to more in depth information (on DropBox or similar) if they need it. Most of all it looks like the project manager 'walking the floor', talking to team members and finding out how their work is going. Good communication is making time for talking to people and not burying yourself in an office or endless meetings. If you don't have time to communicate then you need 'Effective Time Management in easy steps' (sorry that's the second plug for one of my books in the same blog, but it's all in there).

Making time for people always pays dividends as not only will you learn about issues, problems and good news sooner, but it is actually fun. So get out there and do it, everything else can wait. It's one of the best bits of project management.


Tom Hussey said...

Thanks for taking me up on my suggestion John. As you allude, good communication is not rocket science so it's interesting to see why so many project managers don't get it right. Perhaps it's because they spend too much time focusing on the urgent, buried in "endless meetings" and not enough time on the important ...

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