Communications are the area where project managers spend most of their time. It is a complex and important area because interacting with people is complex and because it significanty affects the way others see the project, their perceptions.
Choosing the most appropriate communication channel in each situation is crucial to be successful in critical situations.
In general, we have synchronous communication tools, like phone, videoconference, personal meetings or just conversations in the corridors. And also asynchronous tools like email. Chat could be considered a mix between both; it is supposed to be synchronous but many people use it asynchronously.
Let’s analyze some situations now and get some insights about the prefered channels in each case:
- There is a serious problem in the project. It must be solved urgently as it will affect seriously the delivery date or the quality or the costs of the project.
- Direct conversation with the client or the project sponsor. Prefered channel: formal or informal personal meeting. If not posible, video conference (the posibility of seeing you increases the chances of success because it transmits also non verbal language) or phone call.
- After the conversation write an email to confirm the agreements.
- There is a misunderstanding with a remote collaborator related with specific details of a technical issue.
- Email with the details followed immediately by a video conference or phone call to clarify.
- A decision about an issue must be taken by a group of stakeholders. It is a very open point where different approaches could be valid.
- Meeting with all the involved stakeholders, preferably in person. Alternatively a video or audio conference could be an acceptable option.
- Follow up email with the minutes of the meeting and the summary of action points agreed upon.
- One of the project stakeholders disagrees publicly with you and uses an email with many other recipients in the loop.
- Call him, or better meet him in person, and try to solve the issue directly with him.
- After the meeting go back to the email and share the conclusions with the rest.
What do you think about the approaches to these situations? Have you been involved in any of them or a similar one? How did you manage it? Did it work?