There are a lot of ways to measure your project success – e.g., client satisfaction, ROI, revenue, net profit, happy customers – but there is only one way to reach project success: communication. All of the aforementioned stuff is good, but none can be achieved without perfect team communication.
In fact, your project health is directly correlated with communication. One out of five projects fail due to poor communication.
To put it simply: If you and your team know exactly what they are doing, you are on the right track to achieve one (or all) of those success metrics. If not – well, you aren’t.
So, how do you achieve perfect team communication? Follow these five tips:
1. Encourage Participation
As the team leader, the project manager is more often than not responsible for any communication gaps inside the team. You need to make your employees feel like a part of something bigger – i.e., the team. Show them that their opinions always matter.
Encourage your team members to participate in discussions and share their opinions and viewpoints. Don’t let them just sit there, pretending to listen while actually thinking about lunch. Active discussion is the most efficient way to make sure your team members really care for the project, which will benefit the end result greatly.
2. Take the Time to Discuss
After people voice their opinions, you need to take the time to discuss them – both the good ideas and the bad. It’s especially important to explain clearly (and calmly) why something isn’t a good idea. If somebody feels enthusiastic and wants to help, but their input gets shot down without any explanation, their motivation is going to drop pretty quickly.
You may think that explanations are a waste of time, but you are very, very wrong. An hour or two of discussion will not hurt your project – but skipping that time will.
3. Consider Instant Messaging
Meetings aren’t the only place for project discussions. In fact, small issues almost always arise outside the confines of meetings, and these issues can usually be solved without summoning the whole team together. Instant messaging will help you and your team members get on top of those issues in the shortest amount of time possible.
4. Don’t Assume People Can Read Your Mind
This is perhaps the biggest communication mistake that project managers fall for. They assume that everybody has as much understanding about the project as they do, which isn’t always the case.
Make sure to clearly explain every step that has to be taken in detail and ask your team if they have any questions at the end. Also dedicate time to explaining anything unclear afterwards.
This might be time-consuming and tiring for you, but in the long run, it will help you get everyone on the same page and eliminate (or at least minimize) the chance of possible misunderstandings in future.
5. Hold One-on-One Meetings
This might be harder to pull off if you are working with a big team, but one-on-one meetings are a great way to see how each individual team member is doing. When there are a lot of people around, some of us may feel too shy to express our true thoughts and feelings. This can lead to some employees not sharing some damn good ideas that could really help you your project.
Devoting just a few minutes every once in a while to one-on-one meetings with each of your employees is a great way to strengthen bonds and encourage even the shiest team members to speak up.
(Bonus!) Use Appropriate Software
In the modern world, it makes no sense to rely entirely on Excel spreadsheets and in-person meetings to track and facilitate team communication. The business world is very dynamic, and your team needs to keep up with the pace or the industry – or else.
Project management software is designed specifically for project management purposes, and among other useful functions, it can improve team communication significantly. Whether you are a few miles away from your office or on another continent, the right software will allow you to close team communication gaps and save precious time.
Communication is somewhat different for every team. Some teams excel at it, while others struggle. As a project manager, it’s your job to find out more about your team members and look for ways to improve communication inside the team. This is your ideal route to successful projects.