Projects don’t stand a chance against poor communicators.
Even if you have all the resources at your disposal: best team, best tools, unlimited budget, CEO buy-in and support… Your project is going nowhere if you and your team can’t communicate effectively.
Fail to get buy-in, fail to set expectations, fail to consider to the wider impacts, fail to provide sufficient lead time, and your project is doomed.
And it’s all down to your crappy communication.
Good (or bad) communication forms the foundation for your project.
Here is poor communication in action:
Whether you are dealing with external or internal clients, setting expectations is an essential part of project management.
Without clear expectations, clients are unlikely to appreciate issues when they arise. Issues like extended deadlines, or reasons why they can’t have processes or systems exactly as they imagined them.
Expectations can’t be clearly set and understood by a project team which doesn’t communicate well.
I’m sure you’ve seen at least one project like this…
Everything runs smoothly.
Everyone is amazed that all deadlines are met.
Everyone loves the project manager.
Rollout day arrives.
The change goes live.
Parts of the system stop working. Different departments in the business, nobody considered, start screaming that they can’t do their jobs. Processes fail.
The project moved forward smoothly, on time and under budget. Mainly because no one communicated with the wider business.
Not one member of the project team (including the manager) did an impact analysis to identify stakeholders.
Those unidentified stakeholders were never spoken to about what the change would mean to them.
Those unidentified stakeholders (now jumping up and down and screaming for blood) never got the opportunity to provide input on the change.
Full project impact can’t be assessed by a project team which doesn’t communicate well.
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You know that demanding client who keeps moving the goal posts?
The client who never quite knows what he wants?
We’ve all worked on projects where changes and scope creep are issues.
Here’s the thing: scope creep will always be an issue if you don’t communicate effectively with your clients.
Set expectations and explain impacts of change to your client and you’ll be amazed how reasonable people can be.
The client still might demand the change, but if you communicate effectively they’ll probably be flexible somewhere else, like extending the deadline or delaying the additional changes.
“Be political! Don’t let anyone know what you’re doing until it’s ready to go!”
A sure-fire way to kill a project is avoid talking to people, your stakeholders.
Users don’t know a new system in coming.
Managers don’t know they’ll have to train users how to use the new system.
Managers’ managers don’t know that their reports will be sending deliverables late because of system changes.
The best way to communicate with your stakeholders is early and openly.
Try and get their input on your plans.
Ask them for their feedback and advice.
The more input they give, and the more included they feel, the more likely they will be to buy-in to your changes.
Communication is what assures success or failure of a project.
Next time you’re leading a project, or working as part of a project team, communicate with others the way you would like to be communicated with.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below.