Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Communicating with your team, part of Project Management Foundations: Communication.
There's an old Peter Sellers joke where he walks up to a man sitting in a coffee shop. Next to him there's a dog, so Peter asks the man, "Does your dog bite?" The man glances up from his coffee and says, "No." When Sellers pets the dog, it growls and tears off his sleeve. He looks at the man and said, "I thought you said your dog didn't bite?" The man looks up and said, "That's not my dog." I'm reminded of this joke when I'm working on projects. Good project management is about asking the right questions. All projects will have some information gaps.
Team members will make assumptions that turn out to be untrue, managers will give directions that are later forgotten. Teams are more productive and timelines are more compressed, so miscommunication can live on just long enough to create a lot of rework. So asking the right question is usually as simple as a well phrased, "Why?" Why did you make this decision? Why is this the best way to go? Why is this timeline accurate? Admittedly, it might be annoying for your team, but it's essential for your project.
Sometimes teams have an instinct to get everybody on board and start moving forward. But just because everybody's moving forward doesn't mean that everyone's moving in the right direction. Sometimes the worst course is the one that was created based on an incorrect assumption. You'll almost certainly get an exchange like this on your project. "Why are we doing this?" "I don't know. "I thought you knew." So "why" should be a word that you use every day. Your approach to projects should be very similar to the five whys approach created by Toyota.
The five whys was a process used for root-cause analysis. Root-cause analysis is where you try to find the root-cause of a problem. It's a pretty simple process. Just ask why five times. So for example, let's say that you have a cavity in your tooth. Let's use the five whys approach to do a root-cause analysis. You have a cavity. Why? The cavity is caused when bacteria create acids that damage your enamel.
Why? Too much bacteria was on your tooth. Why? The bacteria weren't killed. Why? There was incomplete oral hygiene. Why? You didn't brush and floss enough. So your dentist does good root-cause analysis every time you have a cavity. You see that the result of root-cause analysis is the original problem. Projects often get caught up in the symptom of a problem. So if your cavity were only treated as a symptom, you'd live through a lot of drilling.
Hopefully you won't have the equivalent of cavities in your project, but you should still use a similar technique when talking with your team.
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- Using formal and informal means to communicate
- Prioritizing stakeholder needs
- Listening actively
- Planning project communication
- Understanding leadership language
- Writing clear and concise project reports
- Learning how and when to say "no"<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.