A project manager has to plan the activity, estimate the cost, develop the budget, manage and analyse the risk involved. Managing time and monitoring the progress of the project is the fundamental responsibility of the manager. Moreover, a manager has to organise and motivate the members of the project team.
Most of the time, a project manager who is authorizing a distant project team will never meet his team members face-to-face. Finding time to converse over the phone is unbearable. Even if you
manage to get everyone over a conference call, the greatest hurdles you have to face are their accents, bad sound quality, and most of them conversing in their regional language. It becomes
difficult for the manager to understand their challenges.
To run a team effectively, a project manager has to follow these 4 basic principles.
- Breakdown The Problem: Break the problem into smaller components and analyse the communication required between various components. For example, A testing team needs to have a conversation with the firmware developers but a packaging team doesn’t.
Don’t organize your communication around teams or locations. Schedule communication around issues by making them small to resolve. Bringing the requirements all together is huge, but functional and physical requirements are acceptable.
You need to communicate with everyone who is part of the conversation and should exclude who isn’t. It is vital to have a typical management structure.
- Make Written Conversations: “Having a precise answer to a precise question” is part of the culture of any company. The question should be in such a way that it has to be answered in one of the following ways- I don’t know, yes, no.
● Is the work related to the project going nicely?
● Will the project have an on-time delivery?
This kind of conversation works well in an email. A distance team won’t be burdensome if all the queries are resolved this way.
There are unavoidable questions in which these three replies won’t be of any help. Addressing such questions requires testing of ideas, brainstorming, and meaningful exchange of ideas. The most common way of addressing it is overlong, hard to follow, and inconveniently scheduled conference calls.
Some of the team members will be in a bus or a car heading from or to the office. Some will be operating on a VOIP line of poor quality or some might use their second language for communication. These calls are wasteful and expensive.
It’s good to have structured written communication and it’s crucial in a project that is scattered. Team members who work in their original language find that drafting an email is better than explaining their ideas over a call. Everyone will get the chance to collect data, think over their feedback, and propose it to the team members before they react.
Bringing in a decision takes a long time because you may get to talk to your team members once a day. You should always be ready for the trial as you will not only be asked about what you decided but also why you decided.
Below are some tips to make a written communication easier:
- An email should never go so long that it doesn’t match the subject line of the conversation. To avoid this chaos, a new question has to be broken down into an independent chain.
- Emails are not a part of structured communication. Modern tools might help in resolving the related issues by enabling you to find the conversations which were out of track for months by allowing you to attach the required conversation to a deliverable.
- Having a geographically dispersed team might work to your privilege sometimes. For example: If a software team delivers a code in the evening for testing with the team members who just arrived for work, then these members can evaluate the testing results in the morning.
- As a project manager, you need to construct a plan, schedule and share it with the team members so that they can understand the necessity of their contribution.
- Establish High Expectations: It’s always better to communicate through email as it’s slightly disruptive and provides a paper trail. But this works if every team member reads and replies to the email. Every company has a culture of engaged communication i.e, reading all the mails, instantly replying to the requests, and sharing the information that is expected.
- Things Will Be Hard Sometimes: It’s not easy to run a team with people who speak varied languages. The team members are in different time zones. Even if you try to communicate better, you will periodically find some hurdles due to misconceptions. When this happens, try to learn from the wrongs and head forward.
Trust the members of your team, set objectives, keep a rhythm of team meetings, and have a big picture. These aspects will help you to attain your purpose successfully.