Five Dangers of Poor Project Communication
By Andrew Grimes
Poor communication can kill projects. Here are solutions to five common communication pitfalls which, if left unchecked, can lead to big trouble.
- Needless information
There are just too many ways in which needless information can distract us. Email, by its very nature, is a tool used to push information to one or multiple recipients. It therefore relies heavily on the sender to get the right information to the right people. Thus, it creates the frustration, familiar to us all, of being copied in on messages of no direct relevance.
A centrally stored, single place for all project communications, document sharing and collaboration – enabling team members to pull information from it and when it is needed.
The opposite danger is that of not receiving or being able to access the information you need. Ever needed to access important emails in another user’s account?
Google wave looks towards a brave new world of online collaboration, arising out of the desire to model a communications tool on the capabilities of our current technologies rather than on historical non-electronic forms of communication. On a ‘wave’, documents don’t go back and forth – they evolve in real time!
Most office workers – if they are honest – would admit to scanning their emails the second they arrive in their inbox. We are surprisingly accepting of the fact that this means constant interruptions! Yet it is well known that interruptions impede productivity. Instant messaging, phone calls, impromptu desk visits all pose similar threats.
How about setting your email to check the server every hour, instead of every minute?
With regards to the impromptu desk visits, growling is not the only solution. Why not treat yourself a set of traffic lights to let your colleagues know when you’re uninterruptible?
Plans and specifications tend to change as you progress through a project. It is therefore important wherever possible to define the details of each project deliverable just before it is to be delivered. The alternative is to risk wasting significant time on thinking about details which will change by the time they are relevant.
Only produce detailed plans or specifications for work that is going to happen in the coming few weeks.
Meetings can be highly toxic! How often have you sat in a meeting without being clear on what the meeting was trying to achieve? Even when agendas are circulated there is still a great likelihood that time will be wasted due to lack of focus or the wrong people being invited. Meetings are usually very expensive too; a 30 minute meeting with 7 attendees costs a half day!
- Prepare well for meetings.
- Keep them as short as possible.
- Only invite the people who absolutely have to be there.
It is always sensible to agree appropriate checkpoints and communication channels at the outset of a project. Indeed, this is perhaps the all important first step to avoiding the dangers of poor project communication.