Communication is one of the keystones of any project. A project manager has to interact with different departments. They have to talk to the upper management, collaborate with the whole team, and in some cases may even need to brief the clients about milestones of the project.
Hence communication is an important skill that needs to be mastered. This will help you in the long run. Without wasting any more time, let’s discuss the points where you can focus on ensuring that your project runs more smoothly.
1. Be Present
As a project manager, it’s your job to communicate with the whole team and understand the role of each member. You have to supervise them continuously.
It’s possible that at some point in time someone may contact you with a problem. You have to find a solution and revert to them immediately. If you don’t respond in time, there are chances that the person may continue making the same mistake and that will result in a problem for you.
No matter what, you have to bring your A-game to the table.
2. Use Project Management Apps
The 21st century is the era of technology and mobile apps.
You have an app for literally everything that you can think of – game-related, monitoring your health, booking an appointment with a doctor, social media, or team collaboration.
Using these apps make your Project Management Communication Plan more prompt and these also helps in Project Communication Management Process.
Since you cannot be over everyone’s shoulder for tracking what they are doing, you should have an app through which you can collaborate and manage your team.
Project management apps like Basecamp and Asana are some of the most popular apps that you can use to assign, unassign, and monitor the progress of the team. This will help you to keep the whole team on the same page and will streamline the procedure.
3. Adopt a Project Communication Plan
You should always emphasize on having a Project Communication Plan. Asking for your team’s opinion and listening to them will help your remote team feel empowered.
Two major benefits of a Project Communication Plan are keeping your projects on track and completing within the specified time limit and sanctioned budget. If you can plan your whole communication very precisely, you can run the project more smoothly and thoroughly.
While drafting the structure of the plan, you have to clarify who can communicate with whom, when, and how.
After this, the next plan of action that you need is to ask specific questions like “What kind of communication is required?” (meetings, reports, emails, task assignments, etc.) and “With whom I should communicate with?” (team members, project leads, clients, stakeholders, etc.).
This will give you a much clearer picture and understanding of what to do next.
4. Plan Meetings Appropriately
Meetings are required for a team to work. You conduct a meeting to share the milestones achieved and to discuss what’s next on the plan of action.
But it is also true if you do not take time to plan your meetings, you might end up wasting more time for everyone including yours. An effective meeting plan should include who are the relevant members that need to be present at the meeting, what are the topics that will be discussed, and the approximate time duration of how long the meeting will be conducted.
It’s a recommended practice to notify the persons involved with some time in hand. So that they can prepare, summarize, and check the progress of the project. This way they can save everybody’s time by being prepared for the meeting.
5. Use the RACI Chart
RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consultant, and Informed. It is a chart, matrix, or model that distributes the workload among the users and establishes the decision-making hierarchy. Drawing a RACI chart will enable the project managers to uplift the progress more smoothly and efficiently.
There are six steps involved in making the RACI chart:
Step 1: Identify the team members.
Step 2: Identify the milestones in the project.
Step 3: Draw a matrix with a row for each team member and a column for each task/milestone.
Step 4: Fill in each box with the corresponding R, A, C, and I to designate the role of each person for every task.
Step 5: Discuss, analyze, and get approval from the project team.
Step 6: Provide everyone a copy.
This will ensure that the whole team is in sync and understands their responsibilities.
6. Engage in Active Listening
As a project manager, you have to deal with a lot of people. They may come to you with queries, concerns, problems, solutions, concerns, and even ideas. Since you are the one dealing with them, you have to be 100 percent present and attentive and proactively listen to what they are saying.
How carefully and intelligently you respond to them is your job description. You cannot lash out at them when they come to you with a problem or you cannot reject their ideas just because you are not in a good mood.
Understandably, this might happen to you soon. You are human. The best thing to do at that time is you need to take a deep breath and think carefully before you respond to them.
7. Take Advantage of File Sharing Apps
In this information age, every meeting or communication that is taking place involves some kind of information. It can be verbal or physical. If it’s verbal communication, chances are you will document it.
When you have to share that document with someone else, it becomes a very long and tedious process of printing and handing out the document. The best alternative is to use a file-sharing app.
These apps can save a lot of time. You can share them on the go through your mobile app or tablet. Within a week, it can save hours of your time.
8. Use Online Communication Tools when Necessary
If you are communicating with your team physically, that is having a face-to-face meeting with the members, you are losing too much time. Imagine this scenario, you went to the meeting room with your team members and you find out that the hall is already booked. Don’t you think it’s a waste of everybody’s time and effort?
A solution to the problem is to have an online meeting where the participants can join from anywhere and you can be assured that the meeting will happen on time.
In today’s world where businesses are more aligned towards work from home, it’s a compulsory tool to have because you don’t have other choices. It’s the only way to connect and collaborate with the team. One effective communication technology that boosts your effectiveness and streamlines operations in your company is VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol.
9. Set Up an Online Review and Approval Process
People have experienced that reviewing and approving a certain task offline is a time-consuming task. So it’s recommended for every project manager to adopt the online review and approval process so that the progress of the project is not hampered.
Take Asana for an example. It’s an online collaboration tool where you can upload your files, other people can review them, suggest edits, provide approvals, assign a task, and so on. This makes sure that the process is streamlined and you can even see the current stage of the project.
10. Keep your project management teams small
Small project teams will eventually result in better communication. Whether you need daily updates from the team or you have to submit a summary to your seniors, it’s always better to interact with fewer people. So that you can save time.
You can consider creating a supplemental team of individuals who are engaged in some responsibilities in the team. So, whenever they complete their assigned task, they can go back to do their respective duties. This way, no one will feel left out of the team.
When you submit the minutes of the meeting, it’s best practice to provide a copy to the supplementary team. If anyone has any concerns or suggestions, they can contact you directly.
11. Focus on your non-verbal skills
Many people believe that communication is not just a verbal language. According to them, 55 percent of the communication takes place as body language, 37 percent is voice tone, speed, and pitch, and only 7 percent is through words.
Although these numbers are subjective, you can always benefit from improving your non-verbal skills for communication. The question is, how?
If anyone is misunderstanding your email, you can have a phone conversation with them. Some people may prefer face-to-face conversations over telephone conversation as they can communicate using their body language. You can select your model of communication-based on the number of people you are interacting with.
When you try to communicate your message to other people, if they are not getting it completely or they are misunderstanding it, you can think of having these non-verbal skills as a tool for better communication.
12. Celebrate Achievements as a Team
Communication is only necessary when you are working on a project. But whenever the project is over, you should try and keep up the same level of communication as well. It’s your job to let them know what they have done well and allow your team to celebrate their achievement.
It is also an important practice that communication, workflow, and creativity should improve with time. For example, you can take suggestions and discuss what needs to change from the next time onwards. But it’s also important for the morale of the team that you should always keep the energy positive and appreciative.
Always remember that there is always a chance of improvement even if your team is doing well. You can implement any of the above-mentioned 12 tips to step up your project communication in your team and observe the results yourself!