A, B, C of Project Communications

Communication

The issue with communications is making yourself understood. Even though you may have a common language with the people you are communicating with, being understood is the key purpose of any project communication.

Far too often we run into issues with communications between project team members and stakeholders who don’t quite grasp what each is talking about.

Often times at the ‘coal-face’ you can be unaware of how much or how little information someone overseeing from a removed position can be. Do you need more or less information? Is it too verbose and over explained? Is the technical language putting people in an incorrect frame of mind to understand the message?

These are all potential problems that can infuriate and confuse people.

Project communications need to be specific and clear.

Here’s some simple points to consider if you need help:

A – Audience

To whom are you communicating?

What form of language should you use for this audience? Should you be verbose, concise, technical terms or layman’s?

What form of message suits your audience? Phone call, email, SMS or meetings?

Knowing these answers can help you define what medium to use and the best way to reach your audience (you could have multiple forms of the same message depending on who needs the information).

B – Broadcast

What is the message you are trying to convey?

Don't get lost in translation with project communication. #RunningMatters Click To Tweet

Touching on the form of message mentioned above, depending on the parameters of the project and the project communications plan or requirements, your message can be in a variety of forms to a range of audiences.

Straight forward project updated can be issued in a newsletter format or a blog post so it’s open reading to all stakeholders.

Often times a sensitive query or technical issue should be broadcast to a very tight group. A platform like Slack or a Whatsapp group may be suitable for a “round-table” conversation or brainstorm about a point of detail.

Your project communications plan should breakdown and identify the broadcast groups and type of messages each will require on what format.

C – Check & Confirm

Has your message been understood?

Make sure and follow up to ensure the points you are communicating are actually being understood.

Don’t wait expecting an answer relying on “I asked you for information”.

Emails go to spam, children open WhatsApp, text messages get deleted, phone calls get missed.

Make sure your message is received, follow up an unanswered phone with a text ” Can you call me this afternoon ‘re… please?”

Give emails a day for reply and then pick up phone or measage in follow up. If it’s more time sensitive than that and you are documenting via email, tell them you are going to call.

Communication needs to be clear in order for it to work effectively.

When the bull does it’s own thing..

There’s an arrogance attributed to bulls that is self perpetuating.

Very few people want to go head to head with a bull which results in giving the bull power and a superiority complex.

The bull quickly learns that no matter what it does it won’t be challenged which leads to more bullish behavior and even less likelihood of being challenged or held to account.

What is a ‘bull’?

In the workplace, the bull is not a team player. They are only in it for themselves and are confident in their ability to stare down any challenge when their attitude or behavior is contrary to the team objectives.

  • To the bull their projects are the only important work going on,
  • they demand preference on all the resources,
  • their opinion is the only one,
  • they may pretend to consider others,
  • they don’t respect authority,
  • they require all the information yet share nothing.

When challenged a bull will sidestep a discussion, when being held to account for behavior- quite likely will stomp their feet and charge away, gets extremely defensive in an offensive manner, will be dismissive.

In short, a typical bully.

How do you deal with this?

You have to become something similar to a cross between a mule and a matador.

Knowing a bull will distract and deflect in a behavior challenging discussion you have to be mule like and stick to addressing and dealing with one point at a time in order to get resolution.

At the same time you need to be matador agile to defend against ‘blame’ being scattered like wild flower seeds, “whataboutery” and probably as hominem attacks.

Holding the conversation to one point at a time will infuriate the bull but you can’t allow them have the power in the discussion.

At some point you may have to decide on either “breaking in” the bull ( never trust or turn your back to the bull even if you think they’ve changed) or putting it out to pasture.

Sometimes putting the young bull out to pasture is the safest way to deal with it.

What has been your experience of dealing with a bull in the workplace?

Make or Break when you make a Mistake

Mistakes happen. It’s life.

Making mistakes in business and learning from the lessons are what make us better people and leaders.

When we make a mistake, how we address it will make or break our relationships with customers and others. Our actions can create and reinforce trust or eliminate trust altogether.

Many of us as children learn, from fear of getting into trouble, the bad habit of trying to deflect blame and cover up when we make mistakes. That doesn’t work as adults, it shows a lack of honesty, integrity and simply that you are incapable of being trusted to do the right thing for your customer.

Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.

Always do the right thing. Own your mistakes. Be genuine in your apology and do the right thing and rectify if possible.

via When Mistakes With a Customer Happen

Business books to feed your brain..

I’m currently slap bang in the middle of “Leaders Eat Last” (paperback version as my Kindle is due a replacement) by Simon Sinek.

It’s got me thinking about other books that should be on my shelf. Apart from the occasional distraction by a Stephen King novel most of what I read is informative – whether business informative or life informative I’m constantly curious and eager to learn.

Here’s a list of other books that are recommended:

www.liquidplanner.com/blog/10-new-books-to-add-to-your-2018-fall-reading-list/

Have any of you read and recommend these or have you your own suggestions for me to add to my list?

How to turn Project Failure into a Win..

Bottom line, none of us are perfect and to quote a favorite expression of mine about ‘failure’ – if we are not making mistakes we are not taking risks and definitely not learning anything.

Sometimes projects go buttery smooth with everything falling into time and place EXACTLY as planned. However, more often than not, we hit speed bumps along the journey and from time to time even project failures.

It’s how you react to the failure that marks you out as the professional. Here’s some advice on how to make that failure into a win..

Speak wisely about project failure & be winning:

BY LINDSAY SCOTT

Q: I want to make a great impression in an upcoming interview for an internal role in a different department, but my current department has had major project failures this year. How can I best use the bad experience in the interview?

A: If the project failures have been high profile, the interviewers will be interested in learning more about them. Your response should be akin to how you answer the traditional interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Everyone knows people aren’t perfect, and the same goes for projects.

First, when the question about failure arises, relax. Your answer can demonstrate you’re ready for the position. I always look for project managers who have experienced failure. Without that learning experience, how can they ever be prepared for when it inevitably happens?

Actively demonstrating the lessons learned is a great way to talk about project failure—but do it professionally rather than emotionally. Avoid the blame game, because your interviewers are likely to know the employees involved. Instead, talk about people in more generic terms such as “the client,” “users” or “management.”

Then get more specific on project details, such as risk management issues or process problems that show the causes of the failures. And finally, describe what you did to right the ship—or portray what you would do to correct the same problems in the future.

Never guarantee similar issues won’t happen again. The interviewer wants assurance that you can handle projects that are not all smooth sailing and that you can draw on your experiences to navigate choppy waters.

Don’t hide from ‘failure’

A debrief of a project failure is an opportunity for you as a Project Manager to display your skills at figuring out where things did not go as planned and provide you with the knowledge and experience to establish systems that will prevent a repeat of the occurrence.

project failure is a way to win
We learn from failure

Article inspiration and Source: No pain, no gain

Scott, L. (2014). No pain, no gain. PM Network, 28(2), 22.

What happens when Change Management meets employee resistance to an RPA roll out?

change

“RPA is a promising new development in business automation that offers a potential ROI of 30-200%—in the first year. Employees may like it, too.” 
— Xavier Lhuer, McKinsey and Company

The line “Employees may like it, too.” is so simple and understated yet sums up possibly the biggest stumbling block in any Change Management process.

Employees. Their reaction to change can be driven by many factors including a fear that their job or position is under threat.

“What’s wrong with the way we always did it?”

People hear ‘Robotic Processing Automation’ and think of auto factory production lines. RBA applies to any process or production that can be automated, not necessarily ‘robotized’.

Robotic processing automation promises a substantial return on investment that has attracted the attention of business leaders. While the ROI can be impressive, the majority of cost savings are realized by reducing employee headcount. Find out how a change team can identify and mitigate employee resistance to an RPA implementation and create a successful change initiative.

Again a line that is worth addressing “..reducing employee headcount.

In my experience change management is NOT about reducing staff numbers. It is in fact about removing the human element from mundane repetetive processes and empowering the staff to become more productive and efficient at other tasks more suited to their skills.

Just like any other process in project management, effective change management involves clear planning and communication of what the process means.

Focus on the positive side of things:

  • you may not have to work late or through lunch anymore
  • you are able to duplicate your time on data entry by engaging more people in a simpler process (webforms)
  • you will engage with techno phopes who shy away from noraml data entry due to spreadsheetaphobia – empowering and motivating
  • your company will be SO much more productive as back office and admin tasks are smoother releasing more time for overwatch and analysis
  • you can centralize data making it easier for key stakeholders and management to access and inform themselves without absorbing hours of others time

Don’t forget to be in front of the negatives:

  • there will be people who expect a magic wand approach – change is an iterative process. Roll out steady, sandbox and stress-test .
  • there will be retraining and many repetitive questions and answers – you are the person with the plan and in the know, you MUST be patient with people, they are willing to learn.
  • it will take time and you may feel there is no end. Well, there isn’t! At some point your process will gain critical mass and others will take it forward and be ambassadors for your process.

Article Inspiration Source: Mitigating Employee Resistance to an RPA Implementation

Resource Management

Regardless of how simple, complex, large or small your project is you will need resources in order to complete it.

A resource is any material, machine, person or software that is integral to the success of your project. Ensuring you have the right resource at the right time and place that it is needed is where resource management comes into play.

What do you need?

People to manage and fulfill tasks

Machinery, tools and vehicles to enable them to carry out work

Raw materials, components and supplies that make up the product or service.

Where do you need it?

Usually at the project worksite or manufacturing facility however the transport and logistics behind getting everything to your location as you require it is part of resource management.

How many are required?

Goes without saying whether it is 1 or 100 of anything you still have to know “how many are required?” This comes from experience and knowledge of your particular field.

You also need to consider the productivity (of human resources especially) level in resource management. There’s no point in throwing all your equipment and people at a task and having 50% not being utilized.

When do you need it?

Obviously referring to your project schedule you will have a fair idea of when you physically need your resources in place. It is worth bearing in mind you will also need to note any mobilization time necessary to get your resource to where you want them when you want them – this is your “lead time” when it applies to materials & machinery; “availability” or “workload” when it comes to staff & subcontractors.

Ultimately efficiency & productivity in any project will be a reflection of how well resources are being allocated and managed.