Many years ago, a good project manager might have gotten away with being a poor communicator. The business clients typically didn’t like it, but as long as the project manager could deliver the goods, the client may have been inclined to let them do their own thing. In today’s world, however, projects need to be undertaken in partnership with the business, and this partnership absolutely requires solid communication. In fact, many of the problems that surface on a project are actually the results of poor communication. Poor communication can lead to the following trouble areas.
Assuming No Response to be an agreement
In today’s world of high technology, we have yet to find a person complain that they don’t get enough email. Usually just the opposite is true. We are bombarded with emails from those who really have something to say, but unfortunately from people who have the desire to copy EVERYONE, and also from those that are just spamming. We as a culture have yet to master this technology, which can allow the truly important information to float to the top and the unimportant filtered out. It is a mistake on the sender’s part to assume that the message has been heard without any response.
Not having proper minutes of meeting
We live in a fast-paced society and it seems like we are always on the go, from meeting to meeting. As the problems we solve get more and more complex, it is ever more important to document decisions and discussions and index them in order to quickly reference them when questions arise. We have seen prior decisions get unraveled and teams go through a long drawn out re-hashing of prior discussions ONLY to arrive back at the starting point from which we came. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have reviewed prior minutes to understand how the decision came to be, first?
Unclear expectation setting
Some project managers do a poor job of talking with their own team to explain what they are expected to do. Sometimes the project manager is not clear on when assignments are due. Sometimes the project manager has a vision of what a deliverable looks like but does not communicate that to the person assigned until the first attempt comes back wrong. Sometimes the project manager does not communicate clearly and team members spend time on work that is not necessary. Again, all of this causes extra work and extra frustration on the part of the project manager and team members alike.
Many projects have problems. Poor communication can cause many problems and aggravate others. On the other hand, proactive communication can help overcome many other mistakes. Dont consider communication to be a necessary evil. Instead, use it to your advantage to help your project go smoothly with less frustration, less uncertainty and no surprises.