Communication is a key skill in project management.
Good communication bolsters project delivery.
Effective communication includes knowing how to listen and learn from others.

When working in dispersed teams (and who isn’t right now), it’s even more important.

At the start of work from home, it felt temporary and making that ‘extra bit of effort’ to bring kindness, compassion and clarity to conversations was something I had fuel in the tank for.

It no longer feels temporary.

It’s harder to remember the compassion.

It isn’t always obvious (even when I can see them on screen) that people are struggling.

Communication in dispersed teams requires understanding others’ perspectives and experiences. Dispersed teams need us to try harder to get the point across to translate between time zone and cultural and physical distance boundaries. The asynchronous nature of the communication loses a lot; the lack of immediacy means that every time we return to a topic or a thread, we need to remember and realign on where it was up to. Reading Atlas of the Heart recently, the distinction between stress and overwhelm was made clear for me. In stress, we can still function and ask for what we need. Once we get overwhelmed, we need to walk away and regroup before we can deal with what’s at hand. Trying to stay ahead of the overwhelm for the teams that we work with is a real effort right now.

To combat this, what are we doing to lift ourselves at 6R?

• Connecting in a more personal way – trying to make that effort to get to know the people on the other end of the phone or screen makes a difference.
• It takes deliberate practice to build trust and relationships when we’re all operating from our own little bubble. Some structure or effort is required to keep this happening.
• Clarity of communication – keeping it simple, repeating the message and using multiple methods.
• Always, always have the best possible interpretation of other intentions.
• Rethinking, reworking stale meetings and practices.

Basically, we are doing our best to be kinder, more compassionate and clearer with each other.

As Project Specialists, we have learned a great deal about communication dos and don’ts. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

3 Communication Guidelines To Live By

No jargon (at least not at the beginning).

Often jargon and shorthand develop in a team as the project group works together, and this allows us to communicate at greater speed, but in the beginning, we want to give full explanations of what’s what. What do you do when people introduce the jargon anyway? Just ask what it is they mean/ what they’re talking about. Usually, there’s more than just you who doesn’t know what ‘CDP’ or ‘AEM’ means in this context. A vendor we were working with once told us that whilst we had expressed confusion on their TLA (that’s three-letter acronyms 😉), they had a bigger problem. They often confused themselves; different parts of their organisation talking to one another used the same TLAs, but they had different meanings within their business.

Gabrielle Dolan’s “Jargon Free Fridays” is a great YouTube channel to check out for insights into professional communication. The videos are concise and provide great tips on avoiding common communication pitfalls.

Clarify when and how is the best way for the team to communicate.

Is it chat messages, calls, working sessions? There are many forms of communication in projects; idea generation, design, solution development, working out a problem, status reporting and sharing of milestones achieved (or missed). All these types of communication exchange and update require people to share information and knowledge. Build in time for reflection and review; we cannot always make every decision in the moment. If you’re struggling to work out which tools match which purpose, there’s a great little cheat table here, published last year.
Checklist for what tools and methods to use in communication
When you can’t meet face to face, then phone or one on one video is the best substitute.

We are what we bring to the conversation.

Residual irritation from another conversation or call can contaminate a new one. Back-to-back all day is likely to leave even the best of us deflated and emotionally spent. Being aware of your own emotional state naming and acknowledging it is a great start to managing yourself better. If you need to take a couple of minutes to shake off negative emotions that will not serve the next conversation, then do it.

Communication is the lifeblood of any project – without it, projects will quickly derail and fall apart. To improve communication in project management, we must first understand why communication breaks down. Communication issues usually stem from misunderstandings, miscommunication, and poor listening skills.

At 6R Retail, we pride ourselves on our ability to improve communication within organisations. Our team of experts will help your organisation to connect with its employees, clients and other stakeholders more effectively. We believe that communication is the key to success, and our tailored approach will ensure that your organisation can reap the benefits.