Part 4 of the Accidental Project Manger series talked about accelerating project success by managing all the global stakeholders.
Another issue you need to manage is project communication. You now have the business case in hand (from Part 3), and you understand how your project stakeholders stand relative to the key project drivers in the business case (Part 4). Congratulations are in order as you are ahead of most of your peers who focus only on managing project task execution. That focus on execution only is wrong.
It’s easy for communication issues to be a project trouble spot so let’s first define what communication is. Communication forms can either be oral, written or non-verbal. For all three forms, the process is the same: we interpret information from our project environment.
This occurs on several levels of communication:
- Intrapersonal; Existing or occurring within the individual self or mind. You heard the phrase – what were you thinking!
- Interpersonal; occurring among or involving several people. You know that people can walk out of the room and all recall something different!
- Group and organizational: how people communicate within an organizational context. We increase the formality of our communication when we communicate across departmental lines. There is also strained communication when there are wars going on!
I may just say hello to a technical lead but there is an awful lot of chatter on the communication airwaves going on. There are key ways too cut through the chatter.
Adapt your style when you talk outside your team.
- Increase your formality and level of written documentation.
- When you are a project manager, a project office doesn’t want creativity. They want you to conform. After you prove competence and they trust you, then you can suggest creative process improvements.
- A project office, sponsor or customer expects you to balance the competing demands. You just need to communicate to them risks against that plan.
Adapt communication when you talk to your project team
- This is interpersonal communication. Clarity and consistency is your key to success here. I was fortunate to work at Tandem Computer. Tandem had a clear culture of quality so it had a clear priorities from corporate down to the project teams. That made it safe for us to move quickly. Not all cultures have this clear sense of direction and so it is up to request the priorities from your senior management and consistently communicate to keep you from having team conflicts.
Summarize all this information in a project communication plan – this identifies people with an interest in the project. Document how you going to communicate with the program office, and the project team.
You need to communicate project status but to make it relevant you need to add the “so what factor”â€“ why is this important to them. Talk in terms of value you drive. You might want to structure your project communication plan in this way. This is really developing a project management style that can get you great results, project after project.
See Part 6 for another strategy to improve your project performance.
Rosemary Hossenlopp, MBA PMP © 2008 All Rights Reserved