How to Communicate on Projects

ProjectManager.com

Most project managers spend a lot of time communicating. In this video with our host Jennifer Bridges, PMP, you’ll find out how to communicate up, down and around to your project stakeholders.

In Review: Key to Effective Communication in Projects

In this video, Jennifer explained that a common concern of executives is that they receive too much information and cannot sift through it to find out what they need to know. Equally, team members often find it hard to know what they should be reporting on. Jennifer said that:

  • A communications plan defines the level and complexity of the information that each group requires;
  • Project managers should think about the audience and the information they need;
  • You should plan how often the team needs to receive or send information to manage expectations; and
  • Communication is two-way: you give it and you receive it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing these tips for communication at all levels on your project team.

Pro Tip: Download a communications plan template to get started with efficient collaboration on your team.

Thanks for watching!

 

Transcription

Hello. I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager.com.

Welcome to our whiteboard session today on How to Communicate Up, Down, and All Around? Communications is one of the most common questions we get. People are asking it on the forum. People are asking it on teams. We get emails. We get calls. When we go in to talk with organizations, it’s the most talked about – it’s the most communicated issue that there is on projects. It’s communication. So we can look at it multiple angles.

Today what we want to look at on this whiteboard session is looking at all angles. One common complaint we get from executives is they get too much information and they can’t really cull through the information to find out,

“What is the true status of the project? Are we on track? Are we off track?

Are we on budget? Are we off budget?

Then, likewise, at the same time, we have complaints about the project level, not getting enough information so they know what’s been completed, what dependencies are impacting their deliverables. So a lot of times it can be a big, ugly mess, and we’re going to talk about the components of some of the communications plan today, and we’re going to talk about a three-dimensional approach for two-dimensional results.

So what does that mean, really? So if we look at a pyramid, and the executives, sponsors, and shareholders being at the top, at the peak. There are fewer of these people on our projects. Then we go to the change control board, where there are probably more members representing maybe business units, different organizations, outside organizations, internal organizations, and then project teams.

Again, project teams can be internal. They can be external. They can be multiple members at multiple levels. So as we look at this pyramid as the number of people, these numbers being fewer people to an increased number of people and doing different jobs, we want to look at the level of complexity of information that’s required or needed is different. These people are going to need less information and less complexity. They just need to know the big picture, “Where are we, and are we on track?”

The change control board needs more information to come in so they can make decisions. Make decisions, address issues, escalate issues, resolve any risk or handle any change requests, and then the project team needing more information again so that they can complete their deliverables.

So in the communications plan – I brought one. So here’s the literal communications plan template. I hope you have one. If not, it’s always good to have a template to use. But basically, in the communications plan, this is the information that we have to define, the level and complexity. Who?

Who needs to know this information? What’s their role and what level?

So who is your audience? Who is your audience? What information do they need? Do they need a high level status report? Do they need a dashboard? Do they like the red, green, yellow reports? Do they like numbers? Do they need budget so that they can make decisions? Do they need more information on dependencies? What do they need?

How often do they need this information and how do they need to receive it?

Do they need to receive it in a dashboard, a weekly report, a monthly report? Do they need it by email or some online system? How are they going to get that information and how often, and when? Again, the frequency, how frequent are they going to get this information?

So then we look at – that’s the directional approach, knowing your audience, and then here you are, the project manager. Here you are, and to remember the results, the results being they’re two-dimensional. It’s a giving and it’s a getting. So going into any kind of meeting or any information you need, you as the project manager need to know, “What information do I need to give my audience, these groups of people? What information do I need to give, and what do I need to get back?”

A lot of times we go through and we forget that we’re just calling out information, but it’s important that we get information that we need from these people. We may need some decisions. They may need decisions, “Is this project still a priority? Where are we on the priority list?” What kind of business-wide decisions are being made that may impact your projects?

The change control board, you may need to get important, timely decisions, information that you need for your project. Then, the team, you may need to know, “Where are you, really? Have you finished your task? Where are you?

Are there any issues that you need to address?” Then, again, it’s giving. What information do you need to give to these people, so likewise, they can make important decisions too?

So, always remembering of your communications plan when you’re communicating up, up, down, and all around, that you’re considering that this really, truly is a three-directional approach for two-dimensional results.

If you need any tips, tools, or techniques to communicate up, down, and all around, and better yet, if you need an app for that, then visit us at ProjectManager.com.

 

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