How to Improve Communications in the Workplace

ProjectManager.com

Communications can make or break your project. That’s why you need a communications plan, and to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, to learn five tips to improve your work communications.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

how to communicate well

In Review – Improving Workplace Communications

Jennifer noted that there are ways to improve your communication process to be clearer and less confusing. It’s also important to develop a communications plan, whenever you start any project.

Now for the Obvious: What is Communication?

Before she went into the how, she suggests we start with the what. Communications is, at its simplest, a way to exchange information. But the problem is that people are naturally going to interpret that information and during that interpretation can often hear what was in fact not said.

The truth is that you might not have expressed your idea with precision. Few people do. Obscurity isn’t intentional, it’s just that when we know a topic it’s not unusual to forget some vital piece of information because it’s so second-nature to us.

Then there’s the other person, who needs to be attentive. That means listening, which is not simply not talking. It involves active participation, including asking questions and relaying back the information being presented to you to make sure you’ve fully understood it. So in that way, communications is part art and part skill, and it takes some work to improve your skills to be an effective communicator.

How to Improve Communications

There are any number of factors that can impact communication with your team, Jenifer said. The time when you choose to communicate can influence its effectiveness. For example, if you choose to talk with someone when they’re very busy or the office is loud and chaotic. Changes are, no matter how well you articulate your thoughts, they’re not all going to come through.

Jennifer said that you should stay aware of environment and other factors that are going to influence the effectiveness of your communications. But for this session, she focused on the fundamentals. Those are the same rules that apply to journalists, who pride themselves on a clear and simple approach to delivering just the facts when reporting on a story. That method is the 5 W’s: who, how, why, where and when.

Define the Who

The who is the target of your conversation. Communications are lost if they’re directed at the wrong party. The first thing you want to do is know who the appropriate people are to communicate with. Are you looking to speak to decision-makers, team members, etc.?

Explore the How

The next factor to consider is the way you are going to deliver that information. This is important. Emails can be great for “Just the facts, ma’am” types of communications, like dates, time and locations, but lack the tone to deliver something that requires more nuance. In that case, you’ll want to speak face-to-face, to follow up and make sure the information is clear.

Explain Why

You can’t communicate something if you don’t know what it is you want to communicate. You must make that decision prior to gather a group together to talk or else you’re just wasting time. Once you have their attention, explain why you’re taking the time to communicate this particular message.

Decide Where

The place you chose to converse is going to have an impact on how effective your communications are. You can go online and chat through a channel set up for your team or individual, which is fine for certain conversations. But you might need to talk face-to-face, which can be in the office, but sometimes you want a more neutral location off-site. Consider the confidentiality of your message, as well, when decided whether to have a one-to-one conversation or a group chat.

Determine When

Finally, the time you decide to talk can help or hurt your ability to clearly communicate. The beginning of the day can be great, especially before people get started on their tasks and have a fresh mind to hear what you’re saying. But it could also be a poor time, if they’re distracted and stressed by the work to come. Same with the end of the day, if they are exhausted and want to go home or are ready to move on to their own personal time. You should factor this in.

Communications impacts every aspect of your project. It’s a skill that can’t be ignored. Following Jennifer’s advice is a good way to get on the right track for clear and effective communications.

Pro-Tip: Effective leadership requires effective communication. That means more than being clear when you speak, but listening and being willing to hear feedback. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from!

Thanks for watching!

Transcription:

Well welcome to the PM Challenges Series. Today we’re specifically talking about five ways to improve communication in the workplace. Specifically for us we’re talking about projects or within the organization.

So what is communication? So it’s the exchange of news and information between two people. So what happens in this process sometimes is confusion, or distortion of the information sets up. So by the time it gets to the receiver they’re not sure what they received, why they received it, or what they’re actually supposed to do with that information.

So today, we wanna talk about the process to improve that so we turn the confusion and distortion into clarity. So let’s talk about some scenarios I’m sure we’ve all experienced.

For instance, maybe you’re trying to communicate with your team or deliver information in the middle of the day when it’s just crazy busy, or the end of the day while everybody’s tired. Well, that’s not very effective in most cases. Maybe some people are trying to email you information on the weekends and maybe you don’t work on the weekends.

And then maybe, you know, maybe you’re trying to hold an important conversation between people at lunch time and it’s really noisy, and it’s hard to keep a train of thought. And then sometimes information is sent to the doers on the team expecting a decision and it’s not really the appropriate people to send it to.

So while some people talk about ways of improving communication by looking at communication styles and other techniques which I found very hopeful and valid, but today, I wanna focus on the basics. So let’s start with talking about the who, the how, the why, the where, and the when to communicate this information.

So first of all let’s look at the who. You want to be sure that you include the appropriate people on that information. Like if you need a decision, target the decision-makers, but if it’s something that you need to send to the doers for the team, send it to the doers.

Also look at the how. Determine the delivery method of how you’re going to send that information. Is it going to be in electronic or are you going to deliver it in person?

Also the why. Identify the purpose of the communication. Do you need a decision or are you just communicating information just, you know, for FYI for people, for the team?

Where. Select the best location. Again, instead of doing it maybe in a noisy lunch area, decide, are you going to deliver this information in office setting? Are you gonna do it off-site maybe in a retreat, or even online, or maybe virtually?

So also it’s important to choose the when. Choose the day and the time that you’re going to do this. Are you gonna do it at the start of the day? Are you gonna have the information at the end of the day?

But these are all ways that we found helpful to improve this communication technique, and I hope they help you too. But if you need a tool that can help you improve your ways of communication in your workplace, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

 

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