During these anything-but-certain times, it’s important to remember why we do what we do. Project teams deliver projects and Project Managers make sure it happens. While the fact remains that with travel all but ground to a halt, we are being forced to find innovative (or just plain simple) ways to stay connected with our customers during these challenging times. This post will talk about ways to keep the lights on and the wheels rolling on your project.
Establish Instant Messaging Links
One method that is particularly effective is to ensure that your project team members and your customers can effectively communicate with one another. While face-to-face is ideal, these days it’s just not feasible. Instant messaging, when done right, is a very effective communication tool that allows for quick exchanges of ideas, visuals and even files. Without having to call a meeting for a specific agenda item, instant messaging allows for point-to-point contact with the right individuals to ensure that issues can be addressed promptly and with the most accurate information possible. Ensuring that stakeholders from both sides can take advantage of instant messaging is a great way to facilitate more direct communications.
Daily Standup Phone Calls
Staying connected is the key to ensuring that your communications plan is still carried out. Getting the team together, even virtually, on a daily basis for 5-10 minutes to allow everyone to hear everyone else’s voice and describe what their daily focus is going to be can pay off huge dividends. It helps to maintain a sense of closeness and keeps the bonds strong between teams. Setting a daily call for the teams to connect is crucial to keeping those lines of communication open and ensuring that everyone is continuing to pull in the same direction.
I will admit this is new to me as I’ve never been fond of video chats but it really does add another dynamic to the entire conversation. By seeing someone’s face as they speak on the phone adds a huge layer of personal closeness (while maintaining social distancing) where you are able to see their facial reactions to statements, rather than letting your imagination determine what their facial expressions are (which can lead to incorrect communication decoding and encoding which can then lead to misunderstandings or communication misfires). Doing video chats also keeps us more honest with each other in terms of paying attention during the meetings. Think about it – when you are in the boardroom with your colleagues, you are rarely pounding away at your email while someone else speaks. Why should it be any different when you’re on a conference call. If you’re on video chat it’s just as impossible to get away with ‘cheating’ and doing other work when you should be paying attention to the speaker and tuned into the meeting.