One of the first steps to getting this right is that of making sure that you are communicating to the right people. You don’t want to waste your time as well as other people’s time by sending out updates to those colleagues who don’t need to know what is happening or by inviting to your project meetings folk who don’t even know what it is about.
As well as being a waste of time this sort of thing will also make you look extremely unprofessional. It therefore pays to look at the following ways of making sure that you always get your communication out to the people who need to receive it. Here are some of the most important points to bear in mind.
Sometimes all you have to do is get hold of one stakeholder in order to find out who the rest of them are. By asking questions you can often quickly find out the names of the people you need to speak to. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should then stop asking questions. If you hear a new name being mentioned or find out about an affected department no one has mentioned before then you should definitely ask whether there could be another stakeholder whom you haven’t been communicating with yet.
Compile a List
Most of your pieces of work will probably have a number of stakeholders and other contacts which you handle fairly easily. However, you might also be given projects with far more complex communication needs. If the latter is the case then you need to think about how you will keep your list of interested parties under control. By compiling a list with all of their contact details on it you will feel confident that you will never miss anyone out from your emails or meetings. You will want to do this early on in the piece of work and then all that is needed afterwards is to maintain it and make any changes you need to it. I always set up an email group with all of the people I need to write to regularly, as this can save you a bit of time when it comes to sending out messages in the future.
Check for Feedback
If you have sent out several documents to one of your contacts and not received anything back then something could be wrong. A lack of feedback from any of your stakeholders could be a sign that they haven’t received what you sent them or that they aren’t the person you need to speak to. I once had someone on my contacts list during the first month of a project. He never contacted me and I almost forgot about him. It was only when I noticed his name on an email list that I decided to phone him to check if he had received my emails. It turned out that I had been writing to someone with a very similar name and that the real stakeholder didn’t know anything about the project. I always do a double check earlier on in the process now, as you can’t rely upon a person you have written to by mistake getting in touch with you to tell you that they aren’t the person you are looking for.
Tailor Your Style
Once you are sure that you are dealing with the right people your next step is to ensure that you tailor your style to suit them. Not everyone understands things in the same way and you will run into trouble at some point if you don’t take this into account. Whether you are dealing with high ranking executives or business users you need to find a way of communicating with them which will get your message across. There is no point writing lovely, flowery project status updates if the recipients don’t understand a word of them. This means that you might need to adopt a different style for each project you work on. When you think about it, this isn’t such a bad thing, as it will make you more versatile and able to deal with all sorts of different stakeholders from varying backgrounds. What you can’t afford to do is assume that one style will work with everyone you deal with on your projects.