Back in the day when I had PMP* behind my name I knew many interesting bits of trivia about Project Management.
For example, one of the companies I worked with determined that 90% of their projects were failing. Hence I was called in to help ameliorate the situation.
Do you know what the single largest failure factor was in these projects? The human factor was to blame – the people involved. And, can you guess what part of the human factor was to blame? If you said “…a break-down in communication.” you’d be right!
From my vantage point there are two main things to do so your communication improves as well as your results.
First: Be very, very clear about what you are communicating.
- Make sure you clarify what you want to say.
- Then say it clearly.
- Check in and see if what the other person heard and understood is what you meant.
(If not, repeat the cycle until what you mean is what the other person hears)
Second: Create strong channels for your communication to flow. A channel is a means by which information runs from the source to the trenches where it is needed. Some companies publish newsletters and blogs. Other companies rely on meetings and e-mail to communicate critical information. No matter what means you use to get information from where it is to where you need it to be, communicate often.
Here are two effective practices used by my clients to make sure their critical communications are not just heard, they are understood.
Practice # 1
Understand how many potential channels you have inside your organization. This number represents the different lines of communication that are being used informally when your team members connect with each other. View this clip for a formula that will help you calculate the number of channels that exist in your workplace.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUWGTSKlYxQ[/youtube]The point is this: Have a communication plan and a main channel by which important information flows. Otherwise, misinformation will have a greater chance filling up your network than your critical messages.
Practice # 2
Install and utilize a coaching culture. A coaching culture means that you have someone in your organization who is meeting on a regular basis with your employees. These short encounters may be individual coaching sessions, group/team sessions, or project sessions. It is easy to transfer critical messages within the framework of these sessions. For example, the coach might deliver the critical message and then support your employees toward being accountable for doing something with the information. Listen to an informal interview I recently held with Laura Verdi from Progressions Salon, Spa and Store. She can tell you the importance she places on their coaching culture and how it relates to improved communication.
*PMP stands for Project Management Professional. It does NOT stand for pimp.