I was working on an assignment and the project manager sent me an email asking me to explain what I was doing to make sure that everything is working as expected and why.
I answered it in terms of logic. He again asked me the same questions but provide a little more details on what he is asking; I replied to him. While I was doing so, I had to fight back several questions, such as “doesn’t he understand?” or “can’t he just explain?”
Yes, I could describe what I am working on in detail; all of my past mangers were happy with my ability to get the job done and answer questions. But wait!! Why should I have to put forth the extra effort and explain all this? My manger should be the one that has to adopt different ways of communication. After all, he is the one who is managing me. Right? However, I have to keep in mind that we are not a team of two and that I play a part in communication too.
There are many books that explain the practice of having different communication channels based on people, cultures and norms, so you don’t create a noise in communication. The formula to identify communication channels is N (N -1)/2, where N equals the number of people. So let`s say you have 6 people on your project/team. You will probably end up having at least 15 [6(6-1)/2 = 15] communication channels.
There are different types of communications and different situations for each type. The type you choose will also be dependent on who you are trying to reach and how that person communicates best.
- Formal written: complex problems, project management plans, project charter, memos, communicating over long distances
- Formal verbal: Presentations, speeches
- Informal written: Email, handwritten notes
- Informal verbal: Meetings, conversations
Now step back and rethink. Email allows for an informal tone of voice. What if in his email, my manger started communicating by explaining what he wanted with an example? An email is a good place for this casual type of expression and many people have a tendency to understand it quickly when you present with examples.
Effective communication eliminates anger, frustration, and discouragement, but above all saves time. Had my manager known more about how I communicate best, as well as the best way to convey his questions, a single email would have answered his questions.
So next time, when you are dealing with a team or even someone new, ask them to describe the best way to communicate with them and save yourself and them time and frustration in the long run.
Remember managers spend 90% of their time communicating.
How do you communicate with your team?