Clear communication is critical to the success of any team and project. Often when a project stumbles or teamwork erodes, tracing back where things went wrong leads to a moment when expectations, preferences and details were not delineated in a timely and thorough manner among all relevant parties. At Real Projectives®, we’ve worked hard over the decades to develop a system that enables our team to communicate in a most effective manner. The thing is, our system isn’t complicated. We rely on three basic tenets we all learned from our elementary school teachers: listen, speak, act. Here’s how these simple principals can significantly impact your business.
1. First things first: you need to listen.
Since we are in the business of making construction life easier for our clients, taking the time to listen to client and stakeholder wants and needs is very important. It’s not just a matter of hearing what they say. We ask exploratory questions to understand goals, constraints and challenges as well as their relative priorities. Then we listen to the concerns and needs of other essential parties involved in the job, including the contractors, designers, and operators, and sometimes we delve deeper into suppliers, transporters, inspectors, etc. Our challenge is to gather information from all pertinent sources and get everyone onto the same fundamental page. Even a small misunderstanding early on can wind up costing a lot of time and money—so good listening skills are key.
Of course, in order to get the information we need to provide services, we have to promote an environment that allows people to freely share their ideas, views and concerns. While face-to-face meetings are optimal, they’re not always feasible. Deciding between teleconferences, phone, email or text really depends on how many people need to weigh in on a matter and how well they know each other. Teleconferences are preferable when a lot of people need to discuss a matter. A text is fine for quick confirmations from folks with whom you communicate on a regular basis. Regardless of which communication tool you use, it’s important to document what was said and any decisions that were made. Sending out a summary record also ensures that everyone involved in the discussion had the same takeaway as everyone else.
2. Convey your thoughts and suggestions.
The expertise and experience each team player brings to the table is important. When listening to other parties, be sure to also relay your suggestions and solutions. We believe in being direct and honest no matter how difficult the situation. If you disagree with something being said or have an alternative view, don’t hold it back, but use diplomacy and respect. It helps to support your thoughts with solid examples, too, so everyone can understand where you’re coming from. While talking excessively and repeatedly can be annoying, our experience says that it is impossible to over-communicate.
3. Act on what was said.
All that great communicating will be for nothing if you don’t take the time to clarify action items after every discussion– and then execute on those tasks. The best way to ensure a project stays on course is to clearly coordinate items that need to be completed and set agreed-upon deadlines. It is important that each person understands expectations and their duties.
Additionally, a modern project manager should employ an electronic collaboration and sharing tool that allows everyone involved to view in a timely manner the project goals and work plan, meeting notes and comments, and their specific To Do list items. Collaboration tools are excellent for creating a one-stop communication channel and usually have built-in features for tracking progress and storing pertinent files.
If you have questions about effective communications, or need a great listener, the Real Projectives® team stands ready to lead communications on your next important project. So please give us a call, post a comment, and share on social media.