Effective Team Communication and Project Management Planning

by Anastasia Pestova

Learning how to communicate effectively when taking part of a group project or team effort is essential to the success of the final product. When working with a new group of people it is important to acknowledge each other’s interests and backgrounds to better match them to expectations of the assignment. To do this, one must create an environment which facilitates effective and open communication. This will help keep morale high, create a welcome environment, and enable the team to finish on time with a high-quality product. In academia or in the professional sphere, being part of a new group can be a challenge as team members need to get acquainted, learn each other's schedules, and get accustomed to each other's preferred styles of communication. As a consequence of miscommunication, the team can miss important deadlines, overlook critical errors, and reach a lack of dependability within the group.

Take a look at the tips and tricks below that are aimed at supporting positive team communication and facilitating an effective working relationship.

Pre-meeting Planning

For starters, a good idea is to plan ahead by scheduling team meetings that fit in with expected work hours that include specific topics of discussion with a clear and easily communicable agenda. The easiest way to do this is to send a calendar invite that includes multiple ways the team member can reach the virtual meeting space, whether phoning in or calling electronically. Agendas are best sent out right before the meeting so that team members can easily pull them up from their mailbox and follow along. It is important to then establish a list of goals and priorities to be discussed during the scheduled meeting time. For example, one of the goals of initial team meetings could be to find out more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and establish set responsibilities for each member.

Configuring Action Items

When meeting with your team it is also a good practice to recognize individual efforts and put into perspective the progress that has been done by the team so far. This will help boost morale and maintain an open atmosphere where the team can discuss their progress, gains, and potential setbacks. As well, in order to help meet team goals one needs to create a deadline that closely reflects expectations that are within the team’s capacity to meet. A detailed Gantt chart or project management plan can be created that showcases the percentage of work complete, upcoming deadlines, and the priority of action items that need to be addressed. Tasks can be categorized by priority, the resources needed to accomplish them, and their importance to the client. Furthermore, if you are the team leader on a project, it is good practice to tap into team members’ preferences and expertise when determining team roles and responsibilities. When working in a high-paced environment it is valuable to cross-train team members so that skillset is spread out. In addition, it is important to maintain an open-door policy where team members can feel free to express their concerns and offer reciprocal feedback.

Good Practices

In an academic or professional environment with multiple moving parts or varying course loads it is pertinent to establish weekly or bi-weekly check ins that will guide the project forward. Having a one-on-one discussion with the professor or other stakeholders will help answer any questions and manage new information, while also predicting project setbacks. While managing issues, one can set a specific group or team member that catalogs errors or miscalculations and steps taken to address them. This will be helpful to you whether or not your project or assignment will have a successive evaluation. A clear and concise reflection can be written that recognizes past weaknesses and strengths.  This way you will have create a blue print for a successful future project management process or proposal draft.

Good luck!