Communications is the foundation of every project. Regardless of the business at hand, if you’re not able to get your ideas across clearly then problems arise. But communications, ironically, can become part of the problem when it blocks the completion of the project tasks with unnecessary clutter.
It’s not a matter of curbing communications, but refining them to reflect a real exchange of ideas and information and not a time-suck. You’ll want to communicate, of course, but effectively. Whether personally you’re going through your email, in a meeting or engage in discussion, or in a managerial capacity you’re working on reports and team meetings, these tips can help you not get bogged down and leave with the pertinent information in hand.
Email is essential, but even too much of a good thing is dangerous, which is why you have to strictly regulate or else risk getting inundated with minutia. Set up guidelines for your coworkers, such as only emailing when something needs immediate attention. By reducing your daily email you free up time to get real work done. It also means that when something is important you’ll see it because it won’t be buried under a pile of unnecessary emails.
How many meetings have you attended that seemed to only offer a platform for someone to flap their lips? That may seem harsh, but often meetings are not the best vehicles to get across the data needed. A brief discussion or email may suffice.
If you need to schedule a meeting, by all means, do so, but only if the problem cannot be resolved by other, simpler and less time-consuming ways. Then, only invite those people to the meeting who are essential to resolving the problem at hand.
And, please, keep the meeting short and on point by setting up an agenda beforehand with key objectives. Focus, and take minutes, to track what was decided and sharing that information with the team members who need to see it.
It’s important that you speak with your coworkers, to disseminate information, wrestle with ideas or problems and just remain social and keep the morale high. But you need to be cognizant of when these discussions are blocking productivity. You can plan discussions, too. They don’t have to always be spontaneous. That way you’re not interrupting colleagues who may be immersed in more critical activities at the time.
As a manager, you’ll be responsible for generating a lot of project reports on a regular basis throughout the lifecycle of your project. That’s one way to keep the work on schedule. Your team needs them, as well as your customer and sponsor.
There’s no way to cut back on these reports, however, they’re a great tool for getting clear and precise information out to those who need to see it, whether you’re deviating from a plan and reassigning tasks to your team or explaining the reasoning behind the move to your client.
Meetings with your teams are not a waste of time. These are great ways to control the information you want to get out and make sure it reaches the right people. Therefore, you’ll want to have regular meetings, weekly, even if they’re short.
Provide status updates, set goals, deliverables and timeframes. Make sure everyone buys in, is on the same page and motivated. That’s how you communicate effectively and get the job done.