Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself

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When building your communication plan, consider your stakeholders and your relationship with them. Do you know who they are?

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Have you worked with them previously and if so, how was the interaction? Have you ever interacted with them outside of needing something from them or them needing something from you? If you have worked with them before but have had poor interactions with them, consider that you need to start from the beginning in re-building a relationship with them before you can effectively engage them in the project. Yes, this takes time and effort on your part.

However, the best project managers have worked to establish relationships throughout the organization and with potential stakeholders before they need those relationships.

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If you do not have these relationships in place, your first communication plan must be focused around reaching out to stakeholders to build relationships and begin to build trust. The simple communication plan enables for a high-level overview of your communications with stakeholders. By focusing on stakeholder groups e. Unless there is a pressing reason to do so, I want to keep my stakeholders grouped for communications rather than communicating with every single individual stakeholder. This enables me to better control and manage my communications overall and reduce the time I need to spend in communications.

Your detailed communication plan should include much more information about your stakeholders and your communications to stakeholders, including guidelines for distributing information about the project and how information will be gathered from stakeholders. Communication plans must be updated on a regular basis. As the project changes and progresses, your project communications will need to change.

You may also identify new stakeholders to whom you must communicate in a way differently from your current stakeholders. There are a variety of communication modes and styles. Modes are of particular importance depending on your stakeholder audience, what you are communicating and how urgent the communication is to the project. Styles are based on our own preference for communicating and receiving communications. Individuals communicate using a variety of communication styles along a continuum Arredondo, , p.

There is also the possibility of a passive-aggressive communicator who moves rapidly from one end of the continuum to the other. Project managers who are expressive in their communications are better able to engage stakeholders and keep them committed throughout the project initiative. They communicate effectively by enabling for a two-way conversation with stakeholders.

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They engage their stakeholders through effective listening skills, communicating in a way that is non-confrontational but candid so as to establish trust and enabling for better conversations overall. When communicating with a wide audience, especially on complex projects with stakeholders that come from a variety of locations, use a variety of modes or channels to communicate. Certainly the more complex the project, the more modes will be used to capture the greatest number of stakeholders in a way that works for them. The more methods used to communicate about the project, the more likely I am to engage stakeholders and keep them engaged.

As a best practice, I make the business case to have one face-to-face stakeholder meeting prior to the start of the project and, ideally, one other meeting at the end of the project.

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In my first communication with stakeholders, I share the variety of modes I will use to communicate e. When working with virtual teams — as most project managers are doing these days — you want to be sure to set up essential processes and procedures for effective communications early on for the team.

Similar to the need to manage stakeholder communications to enable for more efficient and effective communications, you must do the same with your project team. Involve the team in planning communications and processes and procedures for communicating. When involved, team members are more apt to follow the rules and to be engaged in communications. When developing your communication plan for communications with and between virtual team members, include these components:. It is also important to designate modes for specific communications. As with stakeholder communication plans, team communication plans must be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure they are still effective and make sense.

Changes to the project, new team members joining the team or others leaving the team, new stakeholders, etc. Use technology to enable for more effective and efficient communications with stakeholders and others. When selecting an appropriate technology, consider challenges such as:. Using a variety of methods enables for increased engagement of a variety of stakeholders — including simpler phone call or email to more complex methods collaboration portal in order to meet a variety of needs and comfort levels with the technology.

As a best practice, for more complex projects, provide stakeholders and team members with a hand out describing technology to be used, how it will be used, how to access it and any other relevant information to increase usage of the tool and comfort levels. For example, for sharing information with stakeholders or getting answers to questions on the project, you might use teleconferencing, email, virtual meetings or a collaboration site.

However, if you want to brainstorm with stakeholders to resolve a problem or determine whether to expand project scope, you would want to use virtual meetings or collaboration site to collaborate as conference calls or emails will not be very effective. Use of a collaboration portal might reduce the amount of communications with stakeholders as they can utilize the portal for:. The more complex your project, the more effectively you can manage your communications with stakeholders through the use of a portal solution.

You might utilize the portal to share all communications about the project and eliminate the need for excessive face-to-face, virtual or audio conference meetings.

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  8. In such situations, set up a few initial meetings with the stakeholders then transition them to using the portal for future standard communications, such as status reporting on the project. If you take this approach however, be sure to hold a stakeholder meeting at least occasionally — whether bi-monthly or quarterly for longer projects and hold a last meeting to wrap up the project your lessons learned meeting. Of course, should decisions need to be made, or challenges arise on the project, or extraordinary circumstances occur, reinstate meetings with stakeholders to ensure continued engagement and involvement rather than rely on the portal for these communications.

    If we don't plan for communications with stakeholders early on in the project, we run the risk of either spending too little time on communications so as to disengage our stakeholders or spending so much time being inefficient in our communications that we are unable to effectively manage our project.

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    Planning for communications means that we take the time to understand our stakeholders and how they want to be communicated with so that we engage them in the project and get what we need to be effective in meeting the goals of the project. When working with virtual stakeholders with a variety of cultural backgrounds, an understanding of their communication needs and expectations is essential for success. Cultural differences can have a negative impact on our project communications when we believe we can simply communicate as we always do without taking into consideration the needs of others.

    Taking the time to build relationships and understand your stakeholders enables for improved communications. Use a variety of communication modes to capture the greatest number of stakeholders — keeping them engaged and communicating in a way that works for them. The use of technology enables for better control of communications -especially on complex global projects. As a best practice, take time upfront before the project officially starts, to develop your communication plan and outline the ways and tools to be used for communications.

    Validate this information with your stakeholders to be sure it will meet their needs. The more effectively you communicate with your stakeholders, the more engaged and committed they will be to the project enabling for increased project success. Abudi, G. Communicating with stakeholders in ways that work for them. Effective communications for complex projects. You've checked off the last few tasks on your to-do list, submitted the final Enter your business email Get started for free. By Wrike Team , September 1, Griffith Terri L.

    Key takeaways: Techniques for fine-tuning your own habits work habits included! Tweet Share Share Send. Comments 0. Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. Recommended Articles. Project Management. Download our mobile app for your Android or iOS device. How Wrike helps you Salesforce project management Gantt charts Collaboration tools for students Task management Google project management tools.

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    Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself
    Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself
    Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself
    Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself
    Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself Improve Your Project Management: Teach Yourself

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