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Your team members are your greatest asset, yet in many project situations, their skills and knowledge are not being fully utilized. This is because open communication is often lacking with team members feeling either uncomfortable or apathetic about speaking up.

As a project manager it is your responsibility to get the most out of the team that has been put together and that includes tapping into the great resources that they bring to the project. Therefore, business communication skills are understandably highly prized among PMs and being able to foster an atmosphere of open communication can go a long way towards achieving consistent project success.

Here are some ways to create better and more open communication within your team.

Encourage disagreement but not conflict

There can be a fine line between opposing viewpoints and all-out war between team members. As a group leader, it is vital that you make everyone involved feel comfortable enough to express their opinions, even if they run contrary to the prevailing ideas in the group. It is only through positive dissension that ideas can be tweaked and improved upon.

To achieve this, try to be more accepting of opposition to your own views. Not to the point where it undermines your authority but enough to show that you are willing to listen to other voices.

Define accountability and responsibility

Avoiding issues between team members, especially the blame shifting that can occur when things start to go wrong is very important for ensuring open communication. To achieve this, make sure that all responsibilities and sign-offs are clearly communicated, so that each team member knows exactly what is expected of them and also where the buck stops in every given situation.

Getting the right tools

Comfort and trust are major factors in helping to develop open communication. A great way to bring these about is to socialize relationships and information sharing. Social media has become so ubiquitous that everyone uses a similar style of online communication in their personal life, yet often switch to an overly formal mode in professional settings.

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Using tools such as Clarizen or Slack and encouraging team members to use a style they feel most comfortable with can greatly improve the business communication skills of those involved in your project.

Be clear with your team

Transparency is a good indicator of how open communication is within your organization. If it is felt that you are holding back information from team members don’t be surprised if they do the same to you. Having as much information as possible about the progress of various task strands and possible risk factors leads to better decision making and a smoother project path. Transparency is a two-way street so, as PM, you should lead the way in informing team members about overall project progress and what’s happening in the organization generally.

Using your business communication skills to ensure an open and transparent atmosphere in your team can be a great advantage for your project. Every team member has an important contribution to make and creating a space where they can do that comfortably will only be beneficial for your project’s progress and your organization at large.