February 2012 Al’s Angle –Communications Channels
Communications affects performance. Where have you heard that before?? We all know this to be true but yet we fail as Project Managers to effectively communicate to our team, stakeholders and to management. A successful PM typically have good communications skills that include being able to present the issues, listen and act on feedback and keep harmony among the team members and other teams working on a project.
Even the best of us forgets or misuses the channels of communications. We need to be reminded that not understanding these channels will make us less effective. Here is a quick overview of the channels, know them, follow them and you will keep the information flowing.
Up the chain channel this channel strengthens the buy in of the project by the top managers.
- You need to communicate to senior executive –leave this step to someone else and you can find yourself in trouble. YOU need to do this when it is appropriate.
- How to communicate to top management:
- Exception reports
- Weekly status reports (keep it simple)
- Give them the project charter in a paragraph if possible.
- Face to Face Reviews get it on their schedules and do not change. Plan the reviews and keep to a format.
- Have effective communication plan-it’s a project!—you need a plan.
Down the chain channel-this requires delegation skills as you will be working through team members to communicate status.
- Need to report tasks pending, scheduled dates, and general team information processing
- Verbal communications, agenda (very important), email, tweets, project plan, all are means of communicating with this group.
Horizontal chain channel-This communication requires political astuteness and a good sense of tact and yes diplomacy.
- If you do not have these traits listed above find those in your team who can assist you. Find a means to acquire these traits via training or through a mentor. You will need these traits to be successful in your profession.
- You are communicating to clients, vendors, and functional managers at in this channel.
- Horizontal chain involves negotiations, budgets, and most of all time (how long will it take).
- Must have a :
- Well defined communication plan,
- Agreed upon and signed of statement of work
- Contracts (written) and letters of understanding.
- Email can be used but be careful who you copy and limited forwarding and copying.
This article is just a beginning better yet a start, I tried to remind you of the basics of communication and the flow of how your project should communicate. You the project manager need to create your communication “map” and how to make sure that what you are communicating is timely , correct and following your communication plan.