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Showing posts with label Communications. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Communications. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Project Communications Planning

Project Communications Planning is a process that is continuous throughout a project. When building your initial Project Communications plan focus on the following:

Define Your Audiences - Who needs to know What, and When and How do they need to know it. Communication needs and audiences will change as the project moves forward. Plan for it.

Start from the Top and Work Your Way Down the Chain - Start your Communications with the highest levels of the organization first, then work your way down to the team members. Repeat this cycle.

Target Your Message to the Different Groups - Different groups (and sometimes individuals) may require different types of communications media (e-mail, status reports, web site, face-to-face, memo, etc.). Plan for these different types of communications vehicles up front.

Define Roles and Responsibilities - Ensure that your Project Communications Plan includes Roles and Responsibilities for key stakeholders.

Status Reports - Status Reports are a great form of Project Communication if kept short and to the point.

Repetitive Messages will be Required - The same message delivered using different mechanisms and sources will help to reinforce your message.

Anticipate Conflict - Tailor your communications to overcome Conflict before it occurs. Keep in mind that Conflict will always occur on a project. Conflict needs to be anticipated and managed continuously throughout the project.

Allow for Anonymous Feedback - Create a way for people to relay their positive and negative feedback anonymously.

Project Managers need to recognize that good communication is important because it helps to reduce conflict, increases information distribution, and helps to silence critics while reinforcing the positive aspects of your project.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why Is My Project Late?

Design Changes – Design changes during project execution almost always cause delays and impacts to your budget. Once the Scope document has been signed, any changes to the design need to go through your Scope Change Request Process.

Skill Sets – When planning, assumptions are made regarding people's skills. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be wrong. Also, you will usually have people on your team who are new or are less experienced. These new or lower skilled workers won't be as productive or effective as higher skilled workers. Make sure your project plan has accounted for skill levels.

Unplanned Work or Workarounds – Many times changes must be made to the sequence of planned work. These changes can impact time, cost, budget, and quality. Think about these risks up front and discuss what if any workarounds will be used.

Rework – Rework happens; it is part of project management. Ensure your project plan accounts for rework.

Team Morale – Turnover, project conflict, sick time, vacations all can wreak havoc with your schedule and budget; plan for these things. A happy team is a productive team. Ensure your team is working towards a common goal and not working against each other. Remove disruptive team members from your project if their behavior can't be changed.

Schedules – Trying to do too much in too little time will result in delays. Once you get behind it is very difficult to catch up. Your project will have delays. You need to have contingency plans to get back on track quickly.

Work Environment – Ensure that your team has a proper workspace. Cramming people into poorly designed work spaces will lower productivity.

Tools – Ensure your team has the right tools to do the job. Having the right tool, but not getting into the teams hands at the right time will cause delays in your schedule.

Project Manager Overload – Too many people on a project team without the proper management oversight can cause major problems for the project manager.

Overtime – Adding hours to people's schedules in order to make a deadline will usually do nothing but increase your budget. Adding overtime rarely results in getting a late project back on track.

Executive – Executive apathy can kill your project. People are usually not going to make your project a priority if their boss isn't willing to tell them it is important.

Plan for the above "risks" and you will start to bring your projects in faster, cheaper, with higher quality.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Are You Adding Value and Making a Positive Impact at Work?

How are you conducting yourself at work? Personal conduct flows directly from your character. Your character is radiated to others by what you say and do. What you say and do, and more importantly, what you have said and done in the past forms the basis of how others perceive you. Have you lied or used your power or influence to the detriment of others? Have you put personal relationships or interests above the interests of the organization? Have you used your position to get your way by means that were perceived by others to be unprofessional or unethical? If you answered yes, to any of the above, then you are damaged goods in your organization.

Quote: Unless you have deep roots, you won't bear much fruit – Author Unknown

The workplace demands responsible behaviors from all employees, but especially from its leaders. Leaders must be held accountable to what I call the Leadership Accountability Triangle. The three legs of the triangle are: Process, Communications, and Results. When measuring a leader's performance the three legs should be weighted equally.

One of the legs I will focus on today is Communications. It is irresponsible behavior for project managers and organizational leaders to communicate important topics exclusively using e-mail. When this happens, what they are saying is you and/or your group isn't worth their time.

EMOTIONAL OUTBURST: E-mail is a poor choice to use when relaying important project and/or critical organizational communications. Using e-mail exclusively to relay vital information shows a true lack of leadership and poor management skills.

My opinion is, ditch the e-mail when you need to communicate something important. You aren't so important that you can't take the time to pick up the phone or make a personal visit to communicate an important message. To put this in a real-world light, I have seen multiple situations where departments/divisions were radically reorganized and the leader(s) decided to communicate the change via e-mail. This was a cowardly act, and a horrible example of leadership. I call it Absentee Management by Design.

PERSONAL RANT #1: If you have something important to convey, make a personal visit, or at a minimum pick up the phone. Also, if it isn't worth your time to visit or call, then it probably wasn't that important. If I'm not worth some of your time, your message isn't worth much to me.

Organizations that are successful find ways to communicate effectively and inspire their staff. One way to do this is to create and live by Win/Win Agreements and relationships.

To have a Win/Win relationship you must have:

Desired Results: what will be done and when will it be done (negotiated)

Resources: people, money, organizational

Accountability: performance standards, measures

Consequences: good and bad

Win/Win agreements are about mutual understanding. If you want to understand others, you must listen to them. Not hear them, but listen to them. We can't communicate effectively unless we are listening to each other. If you dictate to me, I stop listening to you. Acknowledge me and validate my feelings, and I will listen to you.

PERSONAL RANT #2: E-mail isn't an effective two-way communication tool. I can't "hear" you and you can't "hear" me because were not talking.

Win/Win agreements require mutual respect. Organizational and personal wisdom are also an important part of crafting effective Win/Win agreements.

I'm sure we can agree (or maybe not) there are lots of "smart" people in our organizations; however smart people don't usually do the hard work. In fact, my experience has been that intelligence rarely equals wisdom. Wisdom is what we must seek when crafting Win/Win agreements. Wise people are your organization's greatest assets; because they are great listeners and are open to new ideas. To quote from, "wisdom is the ability, developed through experience, insight and reflection, to discern truth and exercise good judgment. Wisdom is sometimes conceptualized as an especially well developed form of common sense".

In closing, be wary of what I will call the e-mail preacher. E-mail preachers use the computer as their pulpit to preach their sermons. Remember an effective preacher is a great teacher. Effective teaching doesn't come from a keyboard. It comes from human interaction, a shared learning experience, where there is a feedback loop and an opportunity for face-to-fact dialogue and debate.

PERSONAL NOTE #3: I'm not impressed by the e-mail preachers. If I want to hear a speech (one way conversation) I will attend a political rally.

A visible leader that inspires by example and is available, engaged, and is aligned with the organization's mission and interested in the well-being of his/her subordinates is a rare commodity, but is still sorely needed in today's organizations.

As Stephen Covey says "If you can't inspire others than you are an impediment to progress. Satisfied needs do no motivate. It's only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to validated, to be appreciated".

PERSONAL RANT #4: You can't get validation or inspiration from leaders that communicate important messages via e-mail. Those that aren't seen aren't relevant.

FREE ADVICE TIP # 1: Ensure your behavior is driven by principles not expanding your powerbase. Make commitments, make promises, and then keep them. Acknowledge mistakes quickly and make amends. These are the signs of a true leader. Once done, you can effectively enter into Win/Win agreements.

Lastly, weak leaders, whiners, blame agents, and chronic complainers are commonplace in today's organizations. However, you can choose to take a higher road and make a difference. You can always find something wrong with something or someone; instead, reward somebody for doing something right.

Be an inspiration, not an empty suit or just another talking head.