Association for Project Management
Informal communication: what are people really saying about your project?
Blog posted by: Ranjit Sidhu, 12 February 2020.
People can be ambassadors or liabilities on a project – what they become can be handled when you actively encourage positive, informal communication.
When we talk about effective communication or developing communication skills in a project environment, we are most often referring to formal communication such as meetings, status reports, emails etc.
But what about the informal communication? The everyday conversations at the coffee machine, the talk in the pub after work and, of course, the rumours? Informal communication can positively or negatively affect a project without senior executives even being aware of it.
Beyond the project, negative views, valid or not, could be spreading far and wide, including on social media. Left unchecked, negative everyday talk can eventually damage company reputations and their bottom line so actively promoting positive conversation is vital to avoid this.
But just how can you actively promote positive conversations and avoid negative talk in the first place to ensure people are the best advocates for a project and their organisation?
Causes of negative informal communication
It’s hard to keep everyone happy all of the time but there are some fundamental ways to avoid causing people to become angry or dissatisfied. And it’s not difficult… it simply comes down to being honest and fair, and giving people a voice.
Honesty doesn’t mean hiding bad news but communicating it sensitively and sincerely. For instance, when major projects, as they so often do, mean strategic change within an organisation it’s better that people are involved at an early stage of the change initiative so their opinions and ideas can be heard than to have the change imposed on them. When people are excluded from decisions that affect them, and unable to contribute ideas and solutions, this can result in damaging, negative talk.
Not treating everyone fairly is another way of generating negative emotions and negative talk. If someone receives unfair treatment, it will quickly become common knowledge.
Build strong, positive relationships
Avoiding damaging informal communication is more important than ever in our always-on digital world. Bad news can be spread so quickly that it’s important to focus effort on building strong, positive relationships within, and between teams and departments. Then when bad news does occur the culture of trust and loyalty will minimise any negative talk.
When people trust each other at all levels they can weather bad news. When communication is open and honest, and when people feel involved in changes that affect them, they are better able to understand the reasons for decisions even if they don’t like them.
Internal communication may not always be as positive as we hope, yet avoiding it seems relatively simple. Building strong, positive relationships between people, teams and departments can help avoid any internal communication that may damage a project, department or even a whole organisation. But is it really that simple? How realistic is it to devote time and energy to building relationships when under pressure to just get the job done?
I know what I believe – what’s your view?
You may also be interested in:
- Being a communication specialist can help you as a project manager
- Surprising lessons on language for project managers
About the Author
Ranjit Sidhu is an accredited trainer for AgilePM®, Change Management and Facilitation Skills qualifications. She is also a certified SCRUM Master, a coach and certified trainer of NLP.
She set up ChangeQuest 10 years ago to help people and organisations grow by providing practical support and guidance for teams to deliver projects and successfully embed organisational change. She has worked on global projects spanning Europe, North America and Africa.
Latest News from
Association for Project Management
Five of the UK’s most exciting smart city projects25/02/2020 13:33:00
Blog posted by: Mark Rowland, 25 February 2020.
How to bridge the gap between strategy design and value delivery25/02/2020 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Merv Wyeth, 24 February 2020.
North East Branch ‘Projecting the Future’ Event – Tuesday 18th February 202024/02/2020 15:20:00
With close to 40 members in attendance despite Storm Dennis, last Tuesday night’s North East Branch ‘Projecting the Future’ Event was lively and exhilarating.
Judges needed for APM awards24/02/2020 10:20:00
APM are looking for experienced project professionals to judge our two upcoming awards; APM Project Management Awards and our brand-new Festival of Education and Research.
How to meet project deadlines without micromanaging21/02/2020 10:20:00
Blog posted by: Daniela McVicker, 20 February 2020.
APM's New Outstanding Achievement Award20/02/2020 17:10:00
Association for Project Management (APM) has several initiatives to recognise individuals and their excellent achievements in support of our profession.
APM shortlisted for Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) award20/02/2020 15:48:00
Association for Project Management (APM) has been shortlisted in the Best Not-for-Profit/Charity/Social Marketing category at the CIM Marketing Excellence Awards for its ‘Make Change Happen’ campaign.
HS2 is going ahead – here are the lessons it needs to learn20/02/2020 14:48:00
Blog posted by: Mark Rowland, 19 February 2020.