No team, no matter how large or small, can be successful without effective communication. Communication is just as essential to your project’s success as proper planning and budgeting. However, this is one of the most common areas for project managers to struggle. If you lack good communication skills, take heart – you can learn skills and make use of convenient tools. You don’t have to be a born communicator to ensure that your team doesn’t suffer. Here are a few tips to boost communication with your team.
Meetings Are Mandatory
No one likes to attend meetings. They interrupt the flow of the day. They make you reorganize your list of things that have to be done and often result in a time crunch when there are several high priority tasks that have to be completed “now”. However, there are few better communication mediums for teams than mandatory meetings. Make sure that each of your team members understands that those meetings might be a drag to attend, but that attendance is mandatory. However, don’t stop there – you can use those meetings for several things.
Open the Floor
After you have discussed the topics you need to cover with your team, you can encourage free communication by opening up the floor for them to discuss things. Encourage your team members to be succinct, but let them address what’s on their mind, whether that’s a looming issue with the project or their dislike for loose files sent via email. Not only does that help ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page, but it shows that you actually care about what matters to your team members.
Take Time Each Day
While you might think that your team does better with minimal interruptions from you (and they do, for the most part), never underestimate the power of a few words of encouragement. Make time each day (or every other day) to stop and speak with every member of your team for at least a couple of minutes. Talk about the project, ask how their son’s play went, whatever. The point is that you need to show interest. While you should keep it brief, there’s a lot to be gained by this, and it actually encourages them to come to you when they have an issue that needs to be communicated.
Use the Tools Available to You
Do not limit yourself to in person communication with your team members only. Even teams that work in the same office can benefit from using electronic communication solutions. Email and instant messaging are two excellent examples of this. However, you can also use tools like video chats if your team is decentralized or several members are out of the office. There are even apps for smartphones and tablets that combine instant messaging with project management tools for better communication and collaboration.
Communicating with your team is vital, but you have more tools at your disposal than you might realize. Use them to your advantage.