Part One: Know Your Audience
The most important part of what I do as a project manager in the Data Communications Division at Lemberg is getting to know my audience – my client or my team -- and how to communicate with them. Each member of that audience has different goals and needs. More importantly, each has a different expectation for communication that is affected by factors like personality and ability.
My role is situated in a very unique place in the construction process. I serve both the client and the team, playing liaison for communications and issues. I become at once the communicator and the tool for communications. Every day, I am reminded that clear communication is critical to the success of any job. It’s what keeps a job on time and on budget. When communication begins to break down, timelines lengthen, costs rise and -- worst of all -- tempers flare. Here are four things that affect communication.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Tools are important. Whether your team uses cell phones, email, text, face-to-face contact or a combination of all of these, having reliable tools is paramount. There’s nothing worse than missing a key directive because your battery was dead, your reception was bad, or the tool you are expected to use is ineffective for the job.
2. Technical Literacy
Probably worse than the wrong tool is having staff that is under-skilled for the chosen tool. Like it or not, technical literacy affects the entire team. Technology can make communication very simple if everyone is on the same page, but throw a few outliers on the team and you’ve got issues for everyone. Before the project begins, gain a clear understanding of the technical literacy of your team members and choose your channel of communication appropriately. You may need to pull back on your expectations or inject a little training, but in the end you’ll get better collaboration and compliance, lower frustration levels, and a solid bottom line.
Think about it. Teams are made up of individuals, each with comfort zones and talents. Individual performance affects the morale of the team. When things get out of sync, stress levels rise. Understanding your team members, matching the tasks to the talent, and setting clear expectations on the outset of the project can help to thwart potential personality conflicts and set the stage for good team dynamics.
When I check in with my team on a regular basis, I get a clearer sense of the overall project progress. I can take the “pulse” of the team. Strange things happen to a normal functioning team when you add stress. With regular and honest checks, the team can regroup and tackle issues before the project timeline or costs are thrown off. Knowing the individual team members and their workstyles allows me to understand the team dynamics, giving me and the team the ability to solve problems on the fly.
Wrapping It All Up
There are many factors at play throughout the lifespan of a project, but the thread that ties them all together is simply clear and accurate communications. Because the success of the communication among team members is affected by tools, technical literacy, personality, and stress, it’s important to remember your audience when setting your expectations and to provide as much support as possible.
Wendy is a Project Manager in Lemberg's Data Communications Division. She and her team use their combined 66 years of experience to create for customers solutions that are cost effective and powerful. Call (262) 781-1500 or click here to request a quote today. Feel free to leave a comment below!