UCSC Extension Project Leadership and Communication Spring 2010 Student
Have you ever been in a project review meeting where you realize that people are talking but no one is communicating? Why does this happen? Project teams and organizations often have different perspectives and goals.
- You and your team are focused on the details of the project, the timeline, and the resources required.
- In contrast, the people running the organization must focus on the big picture. What is the organization’s mission and purpose? How should it expand in the next year? Five years? Ten years? How does it stack up against the competition? Instead of considering people individually, they often think of groups such as departments or programs.
The task of bridging this gap often falls to you
You must ensure your team members and others know how your project fits into the organization’s objectives. With the acute time pressure faced by many teams, this may be difficult. But there are many time-effective ways to connect your team to the broader organization.
Things to try:
Prepare a 30-second summary. When you meet people in meetings or the break room, what do you say when asked the inevitable, “What do you do?” Be ready. Prepare a 30-second summary about your project. Hit the highlights, with focus on the project’s purpose and its positive impact on the organization. Be enthusiastic. Feel free to brag about recent accomplishments.
Play to your team’s strengths. Do you have people who are naturally extroverted? Encourage them to take the lead meeting people outside your team. They can later help your more introverted team members do the same. They can also keep your team in the loop about what’s happening in the broader organization.
Teach business concepts. Does your team understand the difference between revenue and income, or between an income statement and a balance sheet? Do they know the organization’s key performance indicators? If not, teach them. Or, better yet, have someone from finance or management teach you all. On that note…
Invite others to talk to your team. Is there a project or department your team is curious about or doesn’t understand? Invite a representative to talk to your team about what that group does. This can be a quick intro during a team meeting or a more in-depth, separately scheduled presentation. If possible, offer to reciprocate.
Use your imagination. Are there other ways you can connect your team to the organization? Does your team have ideas? Try them. You may be surprised by the payoff.
By taking these steps, you and your team will better see how your work benefits the organization, improving morale. Plus, you’ll have more information, improving your ability to make decisions that benefit the team and the organization.