As a project manager, there is a lot of responsibility that falls into your lap. However, communication is arguably your single most important task–aside from project management. It is through effective communication that a team is able to collaborate with each other, with management, and with clients. The idea of communication sounds simple enough, but many project managers find that it is the skill that is most difficult to perfect. Perhaps this is because communication goes far beyond talking. We’re offering a list of 10 applications, processes, and practices that we think will go a long way in facilitating communication in order to improve your project management skills.
1. Be Present
As a project manager, you set the tone for your entire team, so one of the most important parts of successful communication is being present. Be the type of manager that is readily available and that has a clear understanding of your team’s roles, challenges, and achievements. If you communicate from a distance and constantly rely on indirect forms of communication (like e-mails and voicemail), then you’ll foster an environment of passive communication between your team and clients.
2. Use Project Management Apps
You have a lot on your plate as a project manager; a big part of that role is making sure that everyone is aware of their personal responsibilities. It would be impossible to always check in with everyone on your team to make sure their tasks are progressing as they should, and then to share that progress with the rest of your team. Project management apps like Basecamp and Asana keep your entire team on the same page throughout a marketing campaign or project and streamline communication for a more efficient workflow.
3. Adopt a Communication Plan
You should have a general communication plan in place for how you expect your team to communicate. Questions you should ask yourself when creating your communication plan include, “what kind of communication is required?” (meetings, reports, etc.), “who do I need to communicate with?” (co-workers, stakeholders, clients, etc.), and “how frequently is communication needed?” Answer these questions to create a general communication plan that can be adapted as needed according to projects.
4. Plan Meetings Appropriately
Meetings are an important part of any work team, but they are kind of a double-edged sword. As effective as meetings can be in facilitating communication, they can also be huge time-suckers that take away from actual work time. Plan meetings accordingly so that you reap the benefits of meetings without suffering delayed workflow. Consider what will be discussed at the meeting, who needs to be involved, and how long it should last.
5. Use an RACI Chart
If you are having difficulty determining who needs to be involved in which lines of communication, consider implementing an RACI chart. RACI stands for “Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.” This helps designate someone who is in charge of each task, as well as who will be assisting in completing those tasks. Not only can an RACI chart help streamline communication, but it can also cut out unnecessary communication that may be inhibiting workflow.
6. Engage in Active Listening
As a project manager, you will have a lot of people come to you with questions, concerns, and ideas. Make sure that you are listening to the people that approach you. This means being 100 percent present, making eye contact, and paying attention to body language. Perhaps most important, process what the person is saying before making a response.
7. Take Advantage of File Sharing Apps
A lot of communication in the marketing world is centered on the sharing and discussion of files. To physically pass around files is a waste of time, and also leaves you open to costly mistakes such as lost files or inefficient workflow. File sharing apps will allow your team to share files in real time, making them accessible to each individual’s digital device. This will save valuable time, prevent lost files, and increase workflow.
8. Use Online Communication Tools when Necessary
Face-to-face communication is nice, but not always possible, especially in the case of distributed teams. Online communication tools like Skype and Zoom give you the opportunity to bring a group of people together for a discussion in a more personalized way than that which is allowed by e-mail.
9. Set Up an Online Review and Approval Process
One area that is vital to marketing, and one that tends to hit the most communication snags, is the review and approval process. Take advantage of apps such as proofing with Workfront that streamline the review and approval process. Team members (and clients, if you choose) can share creative content, leave feedback, offer edits, and sign off on approval, all from their own computer, tablet, or phone. Additionally, you can delegate tasks and track where a file is in the review process at any given time. This is a communication tool that truly improves project management while helping facilitate product delivery and project completion.
10. Celebrate Achievements as a Team
Communication is not only vital throughout a campaign or project, but also once that project is over. Make sure you communicate what went well, and allow your team to celebrate their shared accomplishment. Of course, communication, workflow, and creativity should always be evolving, so it is also good to discuss what should change the next time around, but make sure the energy remains positive and appreciative.
Even if your marketing team communicates fairly well already, there is always room for growth. Consider implementing some of the applications, processes, and practices mentioned above to take your communication and project management to the next level.
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