Be Effective with The Four Communication Basics
There's not one 'best' way to communicate with your project team but rather a number of different things you can do to communicate. That being said, there are some fundamental communication options that are applied on most projects. Before you get too sophisticated with your communication approach, make sure you are very effective with these fundamentals.
1. Status meetings
There's nothing like a status meeting to communicate effectively with your project team. The best time for a group meeting is early in the week, preferably Monday. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure that everyone is aligned, expectations for the week are set, and any issues or obstacles are addressed and resolved. Ideally, this meeting takes place face-to-face allowing everyone to contribute to the discussion and get the most out of it as possible. This is your opportunity as a Project Manager to address the needs of the group and make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. One-on-one meetings
Another great opportunity to manage your project teams are the one-on-one conversations you have with individual team members. This type of conversation can take various forms. A regular weekly meeting can be set up with team members that may be new or have minimal experience. This can take 30 minutes or less and serve as a time to touch base with them, make sure they are not having any problems in getting their work done, or discuss any other topics that would not be appropriate to bring up in a larger meeting. One word of caution... don't use this time to talk about any disciplinary or corrective actions that need to be addressed. That should be left for a separate meeting.
What if you have more experienced or senior members on your team? This is still a great way to manage your team, but it can take a slightly different form. First, it could be reduced to once or twice a month that you get together. Plus, the focus of the meeting can be to discuss any ideas or suggestions the team member has for improvement or making things better. At this point in their career they won't need too much direction, but they will appreciate the opportunity to provide their input.
In 10 years it is nor clear if we will rely so heavily on email for fundamental communication. But we do today. Email is a powerful addition to face-to-face talking. There are lots of uses for emails - one-on-one discussions, group discussions, one-way notifications, fyi's, decision making, problem solving, etc. If you are weak at email communication it can dramatically impact your ability to manage staff and engage stakeholders.
Be mindful to not let email take the place of face-to-face meetings when you have the personal meeting as a viable alternative. It's easy to go down this path feeling that it's faster or less complicated than talking in person. Email should always be in addition to, not instead of, talking to your team in person.
Reports cover a lot off ground - status reports, performance reports, issues reports, safety reports, etc. You may not typically think about reports as a way to manage your project team, but if you create your reports in the right way you will find they can be a useful tool.
What is the right way to create reports that can help manage your team? Make them actionable. Making a report actionable means that someone can read the report and then know what needs to be done next. The report will not be muddled with a lot of unnecessary details or information that could lead to confusion...............................
The four fundamental communication mediums above are practical ways you can communicate with and manage your project team. The spirit of managing your team can be summed up in two words... be available. Your staff will do well if your team knows they can reach you at any time with questions, issues, or suggestions and feel comfortable in doing so. Your group meetings, one-on-one conversations, email, and actionable reports will keep you in that position of availability.