Your team is only as good as the communication it enjoys. If you are able to communicate effectively with your team members, you can eliminate many of the most common headaches and pitfalls that affect projects. However, if you’re unable to implement effective communication, then you can expect to suffer through setback after setback during the course of a project. How do you communicate with your team members?
Keep an Open Door
In any management situation, having an open door policy is important, but it’s doubly true in the world of project management. Keeping an “open door” isn’t as difficult as you might think, either. Essentially, you just need to ensure that your team members know that whatever they need to talk to you about, whatever questions they might have, or whatever problems they’re experiencing, they can bring them to you. Your team needs to know that they can come to you with anything, and that you’ll actually listen, which brings us to the next point.
Listen, Listen, Listen
If there’s one problem that’s common to managers in virtually all situations, it’s the inability to actually listen. This is very important – if a team member brings something to you, stop what you’re doing and listen. Make eye contact while they’re speaking. Stop thinking about the million other things you need to be doing and actively listen to what they’re saying. Chances are good that whatever it is has some bearing on the project, and you owe it to your team members to listen if they’re going to go to the trouble of bringing it to your attention. Listening can be harder than it sounds. You’ll need to:
Make eye contact
Sum up their point(s) before answering questions or offering advice
Provide real answers to their questions and take action right away
Meetings aren’t exactly everyone’s definition of a good time. Chances are that your team members won’t be all that enthused about weekly project meetings, but not only can you change that perception, you can use meetings to your advantage. However, you’ll need to make sure that you can 1) keep the meetings as brief as possible and 2) keep things on topic. By keeping your meetings brief, you not only encourage your team members to say what they need to say quickly, but you show respect for their time as well. By keeping the meeting on topic, you avoid running over time, but you’re also able to keep the conversation focused on finding solutions to the problems at hand, rather than veering off into other areas.
Keeping an open door policy in the office is important, but you need to go beyond that. Project problems and the need for communication can occur at almost any time. Make sure that your team members know that you’re available when they need you, even if it’s outside of normal office hours.
By following these simple tips, you can enjoy better communication with your team members and see better success within your project.