Communication is key to all relationships, whether personal or professional. As such, effective communication is vital to any project’s success. The flow of information between project team members is like the lifeblood of a project. Any team in which the members don’t communicate well won’t be as productive, resulting in lose of money for the company and possibly effecting the team members’ bonuses or pay as well. According to the Project Management Institute’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Report “The Essential Role of Communications” poor or substandard communications accounts for more than half of the money at risk on any given project. The report goes on to state that “Ineffective communications is the primary contributor to project failure one third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time.” While these stats are alarming, in the energy industry a lack of communication could result in far more devastating issues. Many projects in the energy industry take place in plants or other hazardous environments where poor communication can result in safety related issues. Employees who don’t communicate effectively risk injury and poor communication can even endanger the lives of team members or project workers.
A project without clear channels of communication is identifiable by the dysfunction that will inevitably plague it. In these circumstances, deadlines will be missed, projects will be completed in a shoddy manner, and morale will be low. No one will be sure what they should be working on, or what their colleagues are spending their time doing. With all that’s at stake, having a communication plan in place for your project should be a priority. But many companies do not have a budget set aside for project communication efforts and assume project communication is something that “just happens” without the need to budget for and create a thought-out strategy. To a large extent, the task of making sure employees communicate effectively falls onto the shoulders of their manager or the person responsible for project oversight.
Bad communication can completely destroy a team’s morale and productivity, so don’t sit idly by if there’s an issue. The solution to problems of disorganization, miscommunication and dysfunction usually must come from the top down, only a real leader can change culture and ultimately change how a team communicates. Here are three simple ways you can facilitate effective communication between your team members.
- Encourage face-to-face meetings. Modern technologies like email, cell phones, and videoconferencing are great — but sometimes there’s no replacement for an old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation. Nuance can be lost in written correspondence, and details that could be hashed out in seconds in-person can take far longer over email. It’s particularly silly to have employees who work at the same facility to struggle with communicate when an actual conversation would immediately resolve the problem. Encourage your subordinates to talk more often, and if needed schedule time into the project for periodic face-to-face meetings. As the project lead you set the tone for how communicate is handled, lead by example and make an effort to conduct regular face-to-face meetings with your team members. Remember, in-person meetings don’t always have to be scheduled – taking the time to walk to the other side of a building for a quick conversation can be more effective, and even more efficient than sending multiple emails about a subject.
- Give clear instructions. Miscommunication between team members often stems from being unsure of their manager’s expectations. Explicit, detailed instructions will help your team’s efforts at communicating. If everyone in the group knows what the plan is, there is much less room for ambiguity and confusion. While you cannot guarantee that your staff will communicate effectively, do your part by issuing simple, direct, easy-to-understand orders. If everyone has the same framework of expectations and goals, the chances of miscommunication are much lower.
- Listen to employee feedback. If you are going to help your subordinates communicate, you must be aware of what is going on at every level of your project. So listen to any complaints, problems, or issues that any of your team members might have. If two employees are involved in a dispute or aren’t seeing eye to eye on an important matter, it’s your responsibility as a leader to solve the issue. Pull both parties into your office and have each person explain the issues they are having (or foresee) themselves — then bring about a resolution that will get both team members back on the same page.
If people are working together on a project, they need to share opinions, ideas, and plans with each other. A team can’t move forward unless everyone is on the same page, and the only way to reach such a consensus is via dialogue and open discussion. Aiding in the flow of information between employees and creating a plan for how your team will communicate can help ensure your team meets milestones and reaches successful project conclusion. See if using the three tactics described above will help your team communicate better and help your next project excel.
At SCR, we know providing Quality People equals Quality Projects. We can help you find the experienced, innovative energy sector talent you need to complete your next project on time, and on budget. Contact us today!