We all know communication is critical to the success of any project. With complex, cross-department projects, communication becomes that much more important because you must bridge the communication silos. Research has found that silos occur in every organization as documented in this article “How to Make Sure Agile Teams Can Work Together”. The silo mentality can slow or completely stall projects that rely upon collaboration across silos. Knowing that silos happen, here are a few proven strategies to ensure good communication is flowing down to the project team, within the project team, out to senior leadership, and other impacted stakeholders. This 360-degree approach to communicating will ensure everyone is on the same page and the team is given the support and autonomy to deliver successfully.
Managing the communication needs of all the groups will:
- Significantly streamline meetings and focus the discussion
- Reduce the number of people attending meetings
- Reduce the feeling of chaos due to lack of information
To develop a 360-degree communication plan, evaluate all the people involved in the project, impacted by the project, and sponsoring the project. This usually results in three layers of communication planning. Below are the best practices to by group.
Project Team – This is limited to only those people that have deliverables on the project.
- Accessible information like a shared corporate folder or Asana project space.
- Team meetings
- Project Plan
- Meeting Notes with Actions and Owners
Sponsors – This is usually the executive team members involved or impacted by the project.
- Regular Executive Status Updates
- Milestone Progress Review meetings to enable open discussion of progress, issues, and adjustments
Impacted Stakeholders – These are people that need to stay informed because their team members are accountable for the work or significantly impacted by the project.
- Informing meetings conducted at regular intervals that provide updates on progress and next steps
- Re-share the Executive Status Updates as appropriate with this group
Project Leader Tip – The biggest challenge with strategic projects is that so many people want to be involved and remain informed. This will cause a bloating in either the Project Team or Sponsor meetings. Both of those meetings need to include only those that are doing the work or making the decisions. Identifying the impacted stakeholders and providing them an avenue to stay informed will remove those additional people from the meeting and keep all discussions on track.
If you are struggling with how to manage the communications on your project or want to optimize your project communication effectiveness, I’d be happy to help you think through your 360-degree communication strategy.