When you lead projects with a $1bn+ revenue impact there is a lot on the line if they don’t go to plan. During my time as a director in a PMO for a Fortune 30 company, we ran a lot of high-profile projects. The type of projects that get mentioned on Wall Street quarterly earnings calls. As a result, I learned a thing or two about communicating well. So if you are a project manager, here are three ridiculously easy ways to have better project communication.
- One: Identify all the weekly meetings on the project communication schedule. Ask yourself they must happen every week, or can they change to every other week? Then ask if each call can reduce to be 30 minutes long. This requires a clear purpose for the recurring meeting. Each meeting should focus on topics that need action from the people in the room. The meeting purpose cannot be a series of boring updates. This simple method can cut down unnecessary meeting time by 50-75%.
- Two: Focus on getting the first minute of every communication right. This is true for both verbal and written communication. The first minute lays the foundation for being clear and concise. Learn how to do this well with my book The First Minute.
- Three: Each project manager should talk one-to-one with their stakeholders. Ask them about their preferred communication method. Some people prefer to give status updates by email, others like to talk in person or over the phone, or in meetings. Other people cannot spend time in meetings because they are individual contributors. Instead, they can probably commit to engaging at other times and in other ways. Don’t force everyone into your style of communicating. Take time to understand what they want. their needs. By talking to stakeholders as people you will have better relationships. Stakeholders are more than names on a list.
So there you have it, my top three ridiculously easy ways to have better project communication. It is worth mentioning a few things about these tips:
First, I want to point out these do not, in any way, replace the formal methods provided by the PMI and PRINCE2. Planning project communications using comms plans and stakeholder charts is important.
Second, the tips above go beyond the methods described in the formal procedures. These are practical ways to show you care about people’s time. To ensure you use clear and concise communication. And to recognise that everyone likes to communicate in different ways.
Lastly, these examples are true for communication between the lead PM and the PM team and between the PM team and the stakeholders in the wider project team. So use them anywhere you like, no one will complain about it.
Communication on projects is complex. No two projects are the same and the communication plan for each will be different. But, the core principles of good communication remain the same on all projects. Respect people’s time. Adapting the plan to match the different styles of the people you work with. Be clear and concise. These principles always remain the same.
If you use these three ridiculously easy ways to have better project communication you will take a big step towards great communication on your projects.