Prepare for the project submarine. Review the communication plan.
- A typical project starts out with a flurry of communication. The project manager talks with the directors. The stakeholders talk with project managers, and then they talk with the teams. After this flurry, the work begins. So you can think of your communication almost like a submarine. Most of the communication happens within the team and away from your stakeholders. Then, your project comes up to communicate and everyone gets updated. Then, it re-submerges. A few weeks later, the project will surface and everyone gets an update.
And then, the team will re-submerge. Your stakeholders will tell you how many times they want an update. Some stakeholders don't want to hear from you until the work is finished. Other stakeholders like to be pinged every day. It's very important to know your stakeholder's expectations before you submerge to focus on your work. That's why you'll want a project communication plan. How much does your stakeholder need to know about your project? Who is the audience, and what do they need to know, and why? If your stakeholder requires a lot of communication, then be sure to spend some time creating a very detailed communication plan.
There are two different styles of project communication plans. There's the stakeholder communication plan, and the event communication plan. The stakeholder communication plan focuses on the who. It will be your audience list, and then a plan for how to communicate. The event communication plan focuses mostly on the how. It will be a list of meetings, reports, and email blasts. Then, it describes how each of them help you communicate. Sometimes your organize will prefer one plan over the other.
How you design your plan will depend on your stakeholders. If you can choose either, then you'll want to create a stakeholder communication plan. These plans are easier to organize and are clear to follow. Event communication plans are focused on meetings, reports, and activities, so they can be difficult to spell out ahead of time. Try to imagine planning your key communication meetings, reports, and presentations before the project starts. The stakeholder communication plan is less likely to change.
You'll likely have the same audience list throughout your entire project. To start your stakeholder plan, first find out if you already have a stakeholder register. The stakeholder register is a list of everyone who has a stake in the project, so that you can get yourself a head start. If you don't have a stakeholder register, than just to try to create a list of stakeholders. The stakeholder communication plan should address four items. These are which stakeholder is going to receive the communication? How are they going to receive it? What is the communication going to say? And, when are they going to get it? I once worked with a school superintendent who only wanted to receive updates through text messages.
She would never read email and all phone calls went straight to voicemail. The which stakeholder was the school superintendent. The how was the text message. The what was short project updates. And the when was Friday after 4:00 p.m. You should use this feedback to add to your stakeholder communication plan. Also, be sure to keep it updated throughout your project.
- Define “noise” in a message.
- Identify the best method of communication for an emotionally charged and complex topic.
- Recall the purpose of a stakeholder register.
- Name the four quadrants in a power and interest grid.
- Recognize the most common impediment to communication in cross-functional teams.
- Review the SHARKS approach and explain how it helps with meeting organization.