The Importance of Communication for High Performance Outcome
Although it sounds cliché, one of the most key skill sets of good project management is quality communication. As quoted by Tony Gaskins, "Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life - without it, it dies." Quality communication creates connection with others, minimizes data calls and redundancies, preserves the time of team leads, opens up opportunities, achieves client satisfaction, increases work quality and team morale. The amazing feat to build the tower of Babel referred to in the book of Genesis in the Bible, was accomplished as a result of quality communication. And likewise, as a result of the people’s ill intent, the tower was dismantled through the use of ineffective or poor communication. Within the Architecture-Engineering (AE) industry, when communication throughout the life of a project is consistently and clearly communicated to all stakeholders - to include the client, contracting team(s), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), tenant users and agency leadership – collaboration is formed and projects succeed. Unfortunately, it can be common for communication to take place on a 'need to know' basis or as a reactive response to a critical situation. Although the Project Manager is one of the primary operators of this communication system, anyone from a project team can bring this high value quality to a program or project. The following are examples of the type of communication all stakeholders benefit from when managing design and construction projects:
Communicating information beneficial for stakeholder program planning. Having awareness of design/construction awards and project completion dates are important project phases met and can be useful information for stakeholders to use to plan around a program.
Communicating information beneficial for increased stakeholder participation. The most successful projects are well integrated with input from a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders. Advanced awareness of project information such as, interim submittal due date(s), review sessions and the construction kick-off meeting, can be useful information for stakeholders to help manage workload planning. It allows the opportunity for workload adjustments to be made, which can result in increased stakeholder participation during the design process.
Communicating information beneficial for minimizing personal workload. When a project schedule is impacted due to project delays, timely awareness with a mitigation plan in place is essential. This type of communication helps to manage stakeholder expectation and reduces data calls and redundancies as a result of the higher attention that is sometimes given by the client and other stakeholders due to time/cost overruns affecting a program, project or budget.
Communicating information beneficial for sustained stakeholder engagement. Depending on the level of complexity, the average design and construction project can range from nine (9) months to as long as three (3) years. For project success, sustained stakeholder engagement throughout a project cycle is important and can be difficult to attain for lengthier programs. Providing awareness of when interim project achievements are accomplished and awareness of follow-on milestones can help to maintain this type of engagement.
Communicating information beneficial for team morale. Team kudos for the acknowledgement of good work is important for team morale, quality improvement and personal fulfillment. The development of quality projects takes hard work. When a project team member(s) is acknowledged before their peers and other stakeholders for work well done, it can provide that additional boost needed to go an extra mile.
Quality Communication --> Effective Team --> Successful Project --> Happy Client
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