Archive for November, 2013

Say Anything

Yes, it’s been a little while since my last post.  My priorities required a shift in how my time was being spent and my blog paid the price.  But I was inspired today so here’s something new!

Recently I had a thought about how impactful poor communication can be.  Often times, when poor communication has occurred, it’s the joke in the hallway.  Oh well – they’ll do better next time.  But my recent experiences have me thinking that the cost of this issue is a lot more detrimental than we realize. 

Employee Engagement

I had to write a paper about what motivates people at work.  One of the key motivators is affiliation – a sense of belonging.  Who does not want to feel like they belong to a team?  That their work effort contributes to a greater good?  When communication on a project is poor, how engaged can a person feel?  Some will push for information – continuously asking for updates because they want to find ways to help or stay informed.  Others may tune out all together and move onto another opportunity.  The cost of this is employee engagement.  These team members no longer feel engaged, and may decide that they should seek other companies where engagement is possible.  The project team is also missing out on their contributions.  Ideas on how to solve problems or offer a better product – lost because the project leader did not handle the communication well.

Organizational Awareness

Information is often provided with the goal that it will be shared with others.  In the world of cross-matrixed organizations that we live in, this information flow often is essential to a project’s success.  Without timely communication of a project’s status, risks, issues and successes – how well will the information flow from the project team member to others that they interact with? 


We repeat what we see.  If poor communication occurs on a project without there being a course-correction, what is the likelihood of that pattern repeating on future efforts?  Not only efforts managed by the same project lead, but what about those people on the project team who are later tasked to lead an effort?  Hopefully they recall what it was like to have a lack of communication but what if they do not realize the “cost” of that missing piece? 

What to do?

First, the project team member owes it to the team and the project lead to speak up.  They should ask for a mechanism to stay informed.  This does not mean another weekly conference call or an email.  The team should decide what will work best for them as a whole.  Perhaps it’s an update ona  website.  Or a 5 minute call on Wednesday mornings where anyone can join if they’d like an update from the project leader. 

Secondly, in management roles, we must make communication a priority as we develop those within our organizations.  Regardless of your type of organization (FInance, HR, IT, etc) – without strong communication skills, how likely are your team members to be successful?  As a leader, we are accountable for teaching those around us (oh that’s a blog post for another day).  And part of teaching communication skills is about teaching responsible communication – how to tailor communication appropriately based on audience and how to assess the timeliness of communication.  And how to not use Reply All (it had to be said even if not as relevant to this topic).

Think back to projects that you have enjoyed working as part of a team.  And the ones you did not enjoy at all.  What role did communication have in your feelings?  What role did communication have in the outcome of the project? 



November 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm Leave a comment

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