The importance of project management keeps growing: businesses in many industries are increasingly adopting its practices and techniques.
Your latest creative project may be a great idea on paper, but until you get it started in the real world you don’t know how successful it will end up. One of the most common reasons projects fail to get off the ground is due to a failure in communication. A worthy lesson we’ve learned over the years in blogger outreach.
Whether it’s internal or external, being able to properly communicate can be the difference between success and failure. You and your team may have the talent and motivation to see your project through, but if communication breaks down it leads to delays, mistakes, and obstruction.
You don’t want your creative dreams to stagnate over something so avoidable, so we’ve put together some tips for better managing your communication.
Create a plan
It may sound obvious, but planning is essential to every creative project, but have you planned the communication angle thoroughly? Do the people involved in your project know who to report to in every circumstance?
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Having undefined project goals is one of the most common reasons cited for project failures, with 30% of respondents in a recent PMI survey referring to this problem. Your project goals may shift naturally, but if everybody on your team isn’t fully aware of any changes, everyone will suffer. By creating a plan, and then regularly reviewing and updating it, you minimize the risk of your project collapsing.
Improving our organizational skills is something we can work on both individually and as a team. Ensure that your team has all the right resources well in advance, and set up clear communication channels so things don’t get lost in translation.
Ensure that everyone is punctual, prepared and passionate.
If someone isn’t contributing, delivering tasks late and not asking questions, it may be a sign that they’re the wrong person for the team. Having a clear organizational structure will improve communication, as your team members will know when, how and why they’re communicating with the rest of the team.
Use the right tools
Sometimes a new project requires you to install new software, use new gadgets, and spend every last penny in the pursuit of more efficient communication. But while there are some great services out there to facilitate communication between team members, there’s a reason we’re all still using email. It’s quick, easy, and there’s a readily-available record of all interactions.
Team members have more avenues open to them than ever before with things like Slack, Instant Messenger, and WhatsApp, but there’s often nothing better than simply talking face-to-face. Going all in on the latest tool might feel like an important step, but ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary.
Manage your meetings
Continually having meetings may make us feel like everything’s on track, and certainly, they’re one of the most efficient ways to get everybody on the same page. However, without proper organization and leadership, meetings lose their effectiveness. A 2012 study found that 73% of professionals do unrelated work in meetings with 39% even admitting to dozing off.
So how do we hold better meetings? Managing by the clock is key, as is having a set agenda that must be adhered to. This is where time tracking proves invaluable. Have someone there who’ll take clear, understandable notes to refer back to later. Compartmentalize off-topic conversations so your meeting isn’t sidelined. What’s as important as the meeting itself is the follow-up. A phone call or email on the same day as the meeting can help what you’ve discussed to sink in.
We might think of ourselves as great listeners, but there’s always room for improvement. In a world of technology and high-stress levels, it’s easy for our listening skills to take a nosedive.
We’ve all been in situations where we feel like our good ideas have fallen on deaf ears, so how can we make ourselves more receptive to good communication when it comes through? Simple things like facing the speaker and keeping eye contact help us be more effective listeners. Don’t interrupt, ask thoughtful questions and most importantly, try to empathize with the speaker, even when you disagree.
One of the best ways to build trust with your team is to lead by example. If you speak honestly and show your team that you trust them, they will trust you in return. And trust, unavoidably, leads to better communication.
When your team is all on the same page and enthusiastic about achieving your goals together, you’ll find that people are more willing to volunteer information and ideas.
Have a culture of communication
This is something that can’t be achieved with a quick fix, but rather what your organization needs to be continually working on. Ensuring good communication is a gradual process, so don’t drop the ball once it seems like you have it figured out.
Don’t shout people down for bad ideas, and take into account people’s different personalities when you communicate with them. This doesn’t mean avoiding the awkward questions but rather having a business which is transparent and in which people can feel comfortable to express themselves.
Focus on your goal
Your creative project will come to nothing if you don’t have a clear goal in mind. You can discuss new ideas until the cows come home, but if your team is on different wavelengths when it comes to the overall aim of your project, it’s unlikely that you’ll make substantial progress. As has been mentioned, it’s fine for your objectives to organically shift or change, but it’s vital that this is communicated to everyone at every level of your organization.
According to a survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association, 28 percent of people report poor communication as the primary cause of failing to deliver a project within its original time frame. Bad communication significantly hampers your business, while good communication unlocks your potential. Whether it’s clearer emails, better-facilitated meetings or an increase in face-to-face chats, we can all help our teams thrive by properly managing the communication process.