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On Communication, Dentists, and Project Management

Maria Dlugosch found herself in a familiar (and sometimes stressful) position for most of us: looking up at a dentist who was using all manner of tools to prod and poke her mouth. Being a project manager, Dlugosch was able to draw a few lessons from an otherwise miserable experience. For instance: how good is communication between your dentist and yourself? Have there been moments (such as she experienced) where you didn’t quite understand what the dentist was telling you, but they assumed you did? Dlugosch applies these same questions to her own project management experience:

I’m sure you have all heard tales of projects drifting off due to miscommunication between the stakeholders involved. Every project manager gets drilled on communication from the very first day on the job. However, there’s a difference between knowing and doing. Some might think that communication isn’t such a big deal: emails are being sent, meetings are held, so, therefore, communication is taking place. But that’s what your dentist thinks too. Chances are high that I am committing the same mistakes as a project manager. As I’m primarily responsible for planning and goal setting, the plan is always crystal clear for me (just as the treatment is clear for the dentist, hopefully). This does not mean it’s clear for the rest of the team however. As a project manager, it is your duty to make sure that all stakeholders have the information they need to make informed decisions.

In order to avoid such a communication, Dlugosch recommends being as open as possible: invite people to ask questions, no matter how trivial. Furthermore, make it a point to over communicate: first share information in an email, and then one on one to be sure that it’s understood. Other suggestions include having more face-to-face discussions, and choosing the best channel (email/meeting/private chat) in order to communicate with each member of your team.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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