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Five things to remember

Everyone would agree that getting the communication right is one of the keys to project success. I wonder if everyone would also agree that communication is a specialist skill and as such should be the role of a professional communicator. I certainly believe that it should. But employing a communication specialist is only part of the answer how does the busy project manager get the best from his or her comms colleague? Here are some tips from perspective of the communicator:

1.Involve him or her at the very start. If there isnt a fit for purpose communication and engagement strategy there from the off, it can be hard to make up ground later.

2.Seek their advice, rather than provide them with solutions. It can be frustrating for the communication professional to be told to deliver a poster campaign when that may not be the best solution.

3.Take time to discuss and agreed the communication strategy objectives. Ensure that they are relevant, measurable and most important of all focussed on outcomes not outputs. Having an objective to deliver a number of events or quantity of briefings is useful, but you need to know that they have achieved the outcome you need to help your project succeed.

4.Integrate communication into your project board agenda. For every item ask what are the implications for communication? Of course communication should also be a standalone item where you receive an update on progress but avoid it always being the last item on the agenda, it always gets rushed when this is the case.

5.Communication is two-way which means listening to stakeholder feedback but also being prepared to act on it where possible. Look to your communication lead to plan and facilitate this dialogue.

Communication on projects is a strategic function that can sometimes make the difference between success and failure to realise benefits its about a lot more than the project S.O.S (Sending Out Stuff!).

6 comments

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  1. Steve Burris
    Steve Burris 19 September 2016, 07:04 AM

    Communication is definitely a special part of our success. Basically, in business and professional life, we need the help of communication tips to take part in business deals and business structure. In case of working in any kind of project, we should take communication as a crucial weapon. I would like to follow, the ingredients present here in this article and hope while implementing these, we can get better results in our professional life.

  2. Ann Pilkington
    Ann Pilkington 20 May 2014, 03:37 PM

    Thanks John, good point, they are very similar. However, I can sometimes find that as communication people are presented with solutions rather than the problem so worth singling this one out I think. But you are right, if you are doing 3 you are probably doing 2 !

  3. Ann Pilkington
    Ann Pilkington 20 May 2014, 03:34 PM

    Rather belated agreement with Adrian. Social media inside organisations can be great but if the culture doesnt enourage open communication and that means welcoming critical feedback, it wont realise the benefits promised.We need to be careful not to over engineer this - two way communication isnt about a tool its a mindset.

  4. John Bryden
    John Bryden 30 April 2014, 08:50 AM

    Hi Ann,Good points all round.I think I'd change number 3 to bring it in line with number 2.3. Take time to discuss the project objectives and agree the communication strategy objectives to deliver that.That way the communication professional can understand what you are trying to do and provide value-add input to the strategy and perhaps more importantly can monitor the performance of the communications activities not just against the communications strategy but also against the project strategy. John

  5. Sonal Shah
    Sonal Shah 29 April 2014, 09:41 AM

    I really agree with Ann's comments such good tips and in projects communications it really needs to start as early as possible and also keep the momentum going.So many times after the stakeholder and communications plan are completed, things are left near the bottom and not prioritised and meetings are a good example.  We need to ensure communication to all is near the top to reinforce the benefits for BAU and have everyone's buy in throughout the project.

  6. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 25 April 2014, 10:36 PM

    Big ticks all the way Ann. Not sure I am entirely with you Brunella. I have observed clients who invest in collaborative tools, but without the collaborative culture that the tools need to support. I would start with the culture myself and then see how the fantastic potential of social media and collaborative tools can be used to advantage.A little help with collaborative governance would be useful. A cynic might say these are exclusive, or at least awkward bedfellows. :-)