Can I have your attention, please?

Depending on the nature of a project, communication within a team or between teams can prove to be a real challenge. A major part of a PM’s job is communicating concepts, vision, actions, deliverables, decisions, roadmaps, designs, feedback, more feedback… Hence, this poor guy seeks constant attention from fellow team members, stakeholders or even customers.

Get the right people to pay attention

As a PM, the message you have to get across is always important. That’s why you communicate it, otherwise you would just move on. Therefore, getting people’s attention is crucial. You can’t get the job done without getting the right people to listen first. There is information that can be easily digested by all and more role-specific information targeted at certain types of people within a team.

In order to grasp a specific type’s attention, first you need to make sure you provide relevant information to them. Explaining a very technical bug in the system to a marketing expert is not very helpful, is it? When people get information irrelevant to their role in the business, it’s inevitable that they ignore it without blinking. Everyone can relate to that statement.

Imagine yourself, an average internet user, browsing through the web for fun. You open links that interest you and engage with the content you find. Then, suddenly, there’s an advertisement completely irrelevant to your interests popping up. What do you do? You just close it and move on. And if the exit button of the ad is tiny and hard to close, you may feel annoyed.

The same thing happens in business. If you don’t have the right information, you don’t know how to use it, so you don’t use it at all. On the other hand, if you receive suitable material, you know how to deal with it and what feedback to give and eventually open a productive conversation. That’s what a PM counts on; a productive interaction on a topic that requires attention.

How many are too many?

The more people involved in the communication process, the more likely the confusion is. Unfortunately, this is the case and it becomes even worse when people start talking about certain topics in professional terms, that not everyone understands. Again, that’s when a PM comes in, to break this communication down into channels, involve the right people and translate those professional terms into something understandable and easily digestible. Then, communication becomes effortless and more effective, regardless of the team size. Problem solved. Sort of.

The day-to-day execution

There’s a whole lot of tools and methods when it comes to team communication. Apart from the standard face-to-face chat, formal and informal meetings and emails, we now have online chat rooms, comment sections below tickets, web conferences and digital boards. That’s the good stuff. Sure, there are cases when even this wide range of tools leads to miscommunication and confusion, for all the reasons I mentioned above. But even then, there are moderators whose role is to detect those communication gaps and sort them out (hint: this role starts with P and ends with M).

Attitude and attention

Let’s say we have 2 guys who do the exact same job in the team: A and B. A is very friendly, enthusiastic and always willing to help, while B is more serious-looking, curt and distant. Who would you rather turn to, if you had something to talk about? My bet is on A. He seems like a really cool guy and more likely to pay attention to what you have to say. On the other hand, B would be more likely to struggle to get attention and might receive fearful looks and minimal information. Who would want to talk to a person like that for more than a few seconds? My point is that character and morale play a major role in communication and collaboration and being open-minded and approachable goes a long way.

Wrapping up

It’s important to pay attention to the flow of information, keep lines of communication open, whether they’re in-person or digital. The team has a common goal and the only way to get to the finish line is by exchanging correct information and making progress together. If at least one member doesn’t pay enough attention and stays behind, the entire team falls back. A team is as strong as its weakest link, after all.

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