A lot of the literature one might read about project management and efficiency in the workplace might pull out stats on the time spent on emails and meetings as being “wasted” and an easy place to improve productivity. This is underpinned by a rather misguided relegation of the importance of communication for project success, a belief that the vast majority of communication between a project team is pointless.
Communication is actually essential to developing skills, sharing task information and avoiding risk. While being included on an email thread that has little relevance to your role can indeed be annoying, the problem lies in how we communicate not the communication itself. The solution, therefore, is to know how to communicate better rather than just removing it altogether.
How communication develops skills
For team members at various levels of seniority, one of the first times they will be introduced to a concept above their pay-grade will be when included on an email between seniors. This is a constant process until one gets to the very top and allows for a drip-feed introduction to higher roles. For example:
- An intern who’s been asked to add images to a PowerPoint will be included when discussing making the presentation on a new feature to a client
- The person making the presentation will discuss background intelligence and focus angle with the relevant account manager
- The account manager will be introduced to the client by the head of sales or their own manager
- The head of sales will be asked to draw up a review of presentation effectiveness for the CFO to present to the board
- The CFO will be tasked as responsible to explain a change in market dynamics to the CEO and shareholders
This constant movement up the chain of command relies on communication, if the intern never finds out what the next step is, they wouldn’t know what skills to focus on or what is important to get promoted.
Communication improves visibility
When discussing project progress, whether in person, at meetings or over email, the knowledge that is shared improves overall awareness of a project’s status. While certain things might seem innocuous, it is much better to identify them at the start of a trend before something more serious occurs. For example, if no site visitors to a website leave contact details on a Monday, this might just seem like an anomaly, if the same happens on Tuesday it’s probably something that needs to be looked into, like a glitch with the API. However, if this information is not received until Friday or later, then a minor problem has escalated and a week’s worth of leads or more may have been lost.
How to communicate better
As the core problem with communication as a concept seems to be its inefficiency, the obvious solution should be to try and improve that. There are many ways through which this can be achieved, such as:
- Clearly defining responsibilities and inputs (such as with an RACI chart)
- Using a clear template for communication
- Using stricter timekeeping for meetings
- Adopting a communications policy
- Keep information relevant
- Factoring in informal communication time and explain its importance
The importance of communication is very often understated and misunderstood. Using online project management software can greatly improve the quality of your project team’s communication and streamline how it shares task information. Talk to us and organize a free trial to see how Planview AdaptiveWork can help your organization communicate better.