Improving Your Project Communication
To succeed in your project, you need to be a clear communicator. Watch this video to learn how…
Hello. My name is Jennifer Whitt, Director at ProjectManager.com. Thank you for joining us today in our whiteboard session entitled, “Improving Project Communication: How to Maintain Professionalism Beyond the Plan.”
We’ve all been there. We have our elaborate plans and everything is beautiful. We’ve been communicating with the stakeholders and communicating with the team. We’ve been planning and testing and we roll something out.
And then, there’s the event that occurs. There are events out there on our projects, some waiting to occur, but we’re looking at the one that did occur. We’re all familiar with an event occurring and we have that one person that finds the needle in a haystack of the thing wrong on your project. I continue to learn this.
I have a very recent example of this. I was working with the team on a very large technology implementation. We’d been working for several months and we roll it out. It seems to be working well. I get that email from the person on our team, actually another project manager, pointing out the thing that we miss the most; the typo. We had two typos in one of our communications. So of the large technology implementation, she wanted to let us know how unprofessional we were by having a typo in our communication.
I just want to do a reminder that I really think it’s important to maintain professionalism in our profession and for all professions. You can imagine how mortified we were, a team of not only project managers but also technical people, some of the most scheduled, more organized, more everything that you can imagine, missing a typo and what that may have done to the team. What we did on our team is we came back and reviewed this. Before I actually responded to the sender of the communication, we mapped this out for our team as a best practice to use and incorporate on our team going forward.
We did a process. You have your project communication all outlined in your communication plan and there events that are going to occur. We wanted to include this feedback loop. You have the sender of the communication and you have the receiver of the communication. The sender sends feedback to the receiver, and the receiver sends a response. So how are we going to do that? The sender provides feedback; so as project managers trying to maintain professionalism in our profession, we want to send feedback.
The sender of this email pointing out the typo was actually right in sending their feedback to let us know there was something we overlooked. It’s important to inform the sender of this information, “It was great to let us know,” but maybe a different way of doing what this person did is being candid; yes, to let us know that we had a typo. But this person could have maintained professionalism. You can remain candid and professional and also add a bit of humor, as well as ask, “How can we support?”
For instance, an alternative may have been, “Hey, Jennifer. I’m really excited about the enhancements that your team and project is rolling out to our organization. They’re going to be helpful in helping us save time, money and effort. But we noticed you had a typo in your communication. I know how that can be, testing and maybe overlooking something. I’ve done so myself. Being an analytical person, I would love to offer my support next time to review any communication that you might send out.” Wow. That would be a different approach, instead of sending a scathing, demeaning email to me to actually send to my team.
We like that as a better alternative, and likewise for the receiver of this information, providing a response. When you get a response from people, it’s important to respond back to, we feel like, two groups. We need to respond back to the receiver and thank them for their information, but also relay that to the team. I actually received this communication from the person about the typo that I had to communicate back to my team. I needed to thank the sender. “Thank you for your candid feedback and letting us know how we overlooked something in our testing. We wanted to let you know that it was also helpful, and we went back and incorporated that into our plan to test it even further.” It’s important to provide a response back to the team.
When we receive something from someone we must relay that to the team and let them know, candidly, the feedback we received, and it’s important update the plan, which we did. We went back and updated all of our testing plans and all of our communications plans to incorporate this piece of information, where we could review and review and review, and test even more and in greater detail so we wouldn’t let a typo slip through next time.
If you are a recipient of a communication from someone about something such as a typo, do take that seriously. But in implementing a major enterprise corporate technology solution, we feel like the typo, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t that important. For a team that had been working so hard and diligently for many months, days and hours, we feel there was a better way to communicate that professionalism.
That’s what we want to incorporate and share with you for your projects going forward, to help maintain professionalism in our profession. If you need any tips, tools or techniques for your project, maybe to improve your communication plan, feel free to visit us at ProjectManager.com.