Communicating to Internal Teams

Which is the best answer for “How do team members find out what’s happening on your project?”

A. At the Watercooler

B. On the Sharepoint Site

C. Osmosis

D. Project Manager

Your answer will let us know whether your team knows where the project is headed.

“At the Watercooler” or by “Osmosis” would leave some of your team members in the know – and others in the dark.  Providing a Sharepoint Site would be a step in the right direction, but only if everyone on the project team is aware of its location and has permission to access the documents.

Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by beawolf
Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by beawolf

On a regular basis, communicating to the customer tends to be our focus.  When it comes to communicating change to the team,  we tend to lose focus, but it should be just as important.  We forget that usually, as the Project Manager, we are the center of the communication hub between the customer and other high visibility teams/ resources/ stakeholders.  When that happens, there may be teams that get left out.

To avoid gaps in your team’s shared understanding, the PM should remember three things:

  1. Remember: Team members from different functional areas may not share information freely even if they both know they are working on the same project.  If you’re in an organization that is more functional than matrix, this might be even more common than you think.  What you learn from one team may impact another – share what you learn with the other teams.  Leverage your status call to improve the sharing of information between functional areas.
  2. Remember: Information informally communicated may not be sufficient. Just because you spoke to one person on a team does not mean that it was shared with everyone on that team.  You can ask that each team rep at a meeting share information with her team – only to find out that a critical step was not shared with another person on the same team performing the same work.  Ensure that everyone is on the same page – discuss changes in your status calls, share it again in email and share again, if needed.
  3. Remember: Just because you sent an email or words came out of your mouth during a call does not mean that the message was actually received and understood.  Confirm that what you meant to share with the team was understood and that everyone is on the same page.

In the best of all possible worlds, the Project Manager is not the hub of communications.  Strong teams that work with each other week after week don’t necessarily rely on the PM’s presence to share information.  However, in some environments, the random nature of the teaming make these three suggestions something to keep in mind.  Do you have other suggestions that might help improve communication for internal teams?  Leave a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.

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