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Five Bad Communication Habits to Avoid

In a mediocre project, people are always aware that there are things they do not know, and they do not make an effort to seek clarification. They just get used to working under vague or incomplete direction instead, and the results are tenuous. A great project manager will not let that happen. In a post at the Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall describes five things not to allow in your project communications:

  1. Communicating only once
  2. Giving stakeholders irrelevant information
  3. Communicating to everyone the same way
  4. Thinking that communication will just happen
  5. Not planning your project meetings

Managing Volume and Frequency

Important information is worth repeating. Shipping out big details—Hall uses the example of the project charter—to stakeholders and then never referencing it again is dangerous. For one thing, memories are not concrete, and people can be forgetful. Secondly, who is to say everyone was paying attention the first time the information was relayed? It is best to schedule communication activities that refresh teams and stakeholders on important aspects of the project.

Another communication mistake is to mindlessly dump project information en masse on all stakeholders. The problem with dumping information on them is that nobody is going to piece apart all of that data to find the sections that are pertinent to them. Thus, it is up to you to curate the details you report to each stakeholder. For best results, ask the most important stakeholders up front what information they would like to have. Likewise, find out how they would like to receive it. Make use of all the different modes of communication available to you: face to face, phone, email, instant message, etc.

Someone who is new to project management may not see what the big deal is with communication; he or she might think communication is going to happen regardless of if it is managed. And it will happen—just not very well, probably, and the project will suffer for it. This is an important distinction to make.

Finally, everyone already knows how awful aimless meetings are, so here are Hall’s tips for better, more useful meetings:

First, [d]evelop and distribute your meeting agendas prior to your meetings. Ask the meeting participants if they have agenda items they would like to include. Attach materials that participants should read and bring to the meeting.

Second, invite subject matter experts who can communicate the needed information and help the team analyze things.

Third, determine how you will facilitate the discussion points. Are there items in which you wish to brainstorm? Should you present a prototype? Will you illustrate with an example?

Communication must be a conscious act if it is to enable project success. You can view the original post here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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