A good project manager needs to know that they are communicating well with their team - that he/she is hearing them and being heard. It is said that “the greatest enemy of communication is the illusion of it.”
For a project manager, effective dialogue with team members is one of the most important skills to possess. Each person has a unique life perspective and an equally unique way of communicating. Add to the mix a team where some or all the members work remotely, and you have quite the project management challenge.
To avoid communication challenges, here are three common pitfalls project managers should look out for.
1. Too Much Information
Information overload can overwhelm team members. Are some of your team sitting in on long meetings listening to information they don’t need or understand? Is everyone in your department receiving every single email? Too much irrelevant information may mean that your employees are not getting or absorbing enough of the right information.
The solution: Cut meetings to a minimum and invite only those who will benefit from the discussion. Make good use of project management tools that will help you communicate more effectively with your team, as well as solve other project management challenges.
2. Schedule Snafu
Communication takes time. If your schedule is full you may find yourself communicating hurriedly and ineffectively, which interrupts your team’s work. Instructions given to a team member as you walk by on your way to another meeting may not be heard or clearly understood. The team member is likely engrossed in another task and may need a moment to shift focus. Interruptions are a big time-waster. A survey showed that employees at large companies spend only 45 percent of their time working on their primary job duties.
The solution: Book time in for both planned and unexpected communication with your team.
3. Jargon Puzzle
While jargon may be acceptable and understood among members of a common group or profession, it can be a communication nightmare for other team members. Designers may all understand what “above the fold” on a website means and “ROI” may be an everyday expression for your business-savvy team members, but everyone else may just be nodding along and trying not to look blank. The same goes for slang and internet shorthand when you’re managing a diverse team with people of different ages, and cultural backgrounds.
The solution: Err on the side of clarity when you communicate with your team. Cut the jargon to a minimum to achieve more effective dialogue.
The Bottom Line
Challenges are to be expected when you manage a team of diverse individuals, but with effective communication, the right management tools, and a proactive attitude, you’ll be able to stay on top of things and guide your project to a successful conclusion.