Multi-dimensional communication is key for project success

by Paul Kesler

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” — Rollo May

Developing effective communication strategies is an essential part of project success. Paul Kesler discusses what successful communication looks like and why multi-dimensional communication holds the key.

Clear communication is a key project management skill

No matter how large or small your project is, maintaining clear communication throughout the team is essential to delivering a successful project on time and on budget. So often, this critical component of project management seems to get lost in the day-to-day firefighting that occurs within projects. As a project manager you should ask yourself these questions on a regular basis:

  1. Is there anyone on the team that seems to be unengaged or disconnected?  
  2. Are there team members who appear to not get along in group meetings? Any discord below the surface?
  3. Is there anyone on the team that you as a project manager have not spent one-on-one time with in the past few weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should proactively construct a communications remediation plan and put it into action as soon as possible. Ask your manager or mentor to review your approach if you are unsure of how to handle a difficult situation, but by all means, address the situation quickly so that your project can continue to execute and show progress to senior executives.

Reliving your school days

Did you ever sit in class and realize you had no idea what the teacher just said or what you were supposed to do? Yet, you looked around the room, and everyone else seemed to know exactly what to do? Or, perhaps you were one of the students that were efficiently scribbling away while your desk neighbor was looking around the room in horror.  As many educators would attest, people learn in different ways.

As multi-dimensional creatures, humans have multiple methods of absorbing – or not absorbing – information. Some individuals are audibly-inclined while others are visual, and still, others come in somewhere in between. Accordingly, it’s important to utilize multiple forms of communications when leading teams through project meetings to ensure you’re reaching everyone. For example, how often do you show the current scope of work using a web meeting document sharing tool to the team to remind everyone of the approved goals and objectives of the project? How often do you verbally reiterate the core project artifacts so that people do not lose sight of the original purpose of a project? Seeing AND hearing are equally meaningful ways to connect the project goals back to the project teams. This is especially important when leading cross-functional teams across various regions and countries. When you use different communication channels with your teams, you get a higher level of engagement and interaction with your team members.

Daily practices for better results

  1. Proactively assess the communication flow within your project team.
  2. Pick one or two trusted members of the team to get honest feedback and suggestions for modifications moving forward.
  3. Combine various communication methods within your project teams; be aware of remaining in the status quo and how that might impact the effectiveness of your project team.
  4. Reach out to communication experts in your company; ask them for suggestions or invite them to participate without announcing themselves to others on your next project team phone meeting to be able to give you objective feedback and suggestions for change.

Start today, make a commitment to yourself and your team that you will be a communication GURU. Work to proactively change the way you communicate within your project teams to lead to a more enjoyable team experience, faster execution, fewer missteps, and fewer misunderstandings. Just as having diverse teams can lead to greater expertise; developing a diverse communication strategy can lead to greater overall project success.


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