6 Things Project Leaders Need to Know to Overcome Communication Breakdowns

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Strategy Is in My Head

Whether personally or professionally, we’ve all been witness to communication breakdowns. From playing “telephone” at a party, to trying to decipher the tone of a text message from a friend or an email from your boss, how and what we choose to communicate can be the difference maker in any given situation. In a business environment, communication breakdowns can result in missed deadlines, project failures, lost revenue, and morale issues.

While the methods for preventing communication breakdowns may seem fairly straightforward, the strategies behind good communication are more nuanced and require dedication, openness, and commitment. The following tactics provide a road map for effective communication in a project-based work environment.

  1. Set expectations
    Lead by example. If you keep your office door closed and rarely conduct in-person meetings, your team members will likely follow suit. Positive communication must be facilitated and showcased both up and down. Make all parties involved aware of your communication expectations before a project begins.
  2. The importance of sponsorship
    A culture that promotes healthy dialogue must be fostered from the top. When executives buy into and emphasize the importance of two-way communication, other team members will be more comfortable freely sharing their points of view.
  3. Know your audience
    In some conversations, details and logistics are necessary. In others, the bigger picture is the priority. Depending on who is part of the conversation, your communication content – and style – may need to change. By getting to know your audience, you can seek clarity on what you need to communicate to whom.
  4. Keep it real
    Don’t be afraid to tell stakeholders if something is not going as planned. The sooner you confront unexpected project challenges, the easier it is to recover. Being able to regularly communicate project status and if necessary, redefine terms and objectives, will help disrupted projects get back on track.
  5. Choose your method wisely
    Between texts, emails, video conferencing, instant messaging, or simply walking down the hall, there are countless ways to communicate. When possible, conduct regular, in-person check ins to make sure everyone is on the same page. And while digital communication is the new normal, know when picking up the phone will be a better—and faster—way to get a result.
  6. Be flexible
    While having scheduled time to discuss a project is essential, be willing to speak up and listen between formal meetings if any issues arise. Communication should not just be for communication’s sake – only if it is timely and meaningful will it help get work back on track and lead to shared solutions.

Learn more about these six must-dos to elevate your communication with key stakeholders and improve project results.

TwentyEighty Strategy Execution is a global leader in project-focused training, enabling people to close the strategy execution gap and drive higher performance by strengthening relational and technical skills. By combining the best of cutting-edge university research and proven business techniques, we deliver training designed to increase alignment and engagement across teams, business units, or the entire enterprise. Learn more today at strategyex.com. Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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