5 Project Startup Communication Tips – Project Management 101

October 17, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Communications Management

5 Project Startup Communication Tips – Project Management 101
By James Clements

When project teams form up in the early days, the project manager needs to set the scene on “how things will be done around here” establish the project culture so to speak, and at the very heart of this is project communications. Here are five Project Management 101 tips for setting the scene early in a project:

Actively manage communications don’t just let them happen.

  • If you don’t communicate people will make their own assessments of what’s going on, you need to be managing perceptions and driving the agenda, start day 1.

Speak regularly with your team as a group (no outsiders), be open and truthful and the truth will flow back.

  • Be human but remain the leader at all times, control the discussion.

  • Don’t make this a scheduled event (there’s enough of those) pull the team together when you have some good or bad news or you’ve received positive or negative feedback, make it at least fortnightly.

  • Be the conductor at this discussion, not the main speaker, deliver your messages firstly, but get the team to feel comfortable talking and sharing their issues.

  • If they don’t speak up you have work to do.

Talk regularly with individuals in addition to group sessions. Some people won’t speak up in a groups.

  • You need to learn each persons communication style.
  • All people will feel more valued if you take the time and you’ll learn more from these chats about what’s actually going on than any report will tell you.

  • This will help stop rumor and gossip, people are more likely to open up and ask delicate questions one on one.

Write meeting minutes and as a minimum report summaries/overviews yourself.

  • This may seem trivial, but if these reports are the only way some people get updated on your project, you want the message to be right.

  • This gives you the opportunity to make the right emphasis and points in communications that you need to steer people the way you want.

  • Do not have the secretary write minutes, if he or she knew what was going on, they would be the project manager.

  • Get minutes out within hours of the meeting, it’s not that hard if you apply some discipline. Handing out minutes from the previous week at the next meeting is a joke.

  • Every point of issue must have a someone responsible, an action and a date.

  • For progress points never use the words ‘ongoing’ or ‘in progress’, this just translates to ‘nothing happening’ and means you’ve set your milestones/targets too far apart or they are not tangible enough to measure.

  • If it wasn’t addressed in the meeting but should have been, don’t be afraid to add it in with an ‘Added after meeting’ caveat.

Manage email right from the start.

  • Discourage if not ban outright emailing inter and intra office, encourage people to walk to talk or pick up the phone or skype.
  • Discourage if not ban outright CC’ing that isn’t necessary. CC’s should only be for people effected by the emails request for action.

  • Only one ‘To’ addressee per email, being the person that is responsible for the action the email requests.

  • Discourage if not ban outright project secondee’s CC’ing their functional manager’s on everything, they’re setting you up for when you stumble, demand loyalty or as a minimum honesty.

  • As soon as you see a conversation or worse an argument happening via email, grab the participants by the ear and make them have a conversation using their mouths and all the other bits of our bodies that actually indicate what a person is feeling.

An extra point for your personal use to track your communications with stakeholders use this simple tool, start up a ‘Chat’ spreadsheet.

  • List all stakeholders and key project team members in the vertical column.
  • List all the weeks of the project across the top horizontal row.

  • In a second vertical column note whether you need to speak to each person weekly or monthly.

  • Tick off every time you talk to someone, make sure you keep the visit regularity up as you planned.

  • After a month or two you won’t need the spreadsheet, you’ll have an efficient weekly routine as you work the office building like a pro.

  • This is also a good career networking technique to get yourself noticed.

James Clements, MBA, MPD has been managing, directing, winning projects and developing project management processes in diverse industries around the world for the past 20 years. You can contact James via his website here and you can read more from him on his blog.

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