Communicating projects

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This was a presentation given by Ann Pilkington to the APM Wessex branch membership at their AGM event on 13th May 2014. Ann's presentation is about communication in project management - a topic she's recently spoken about at APM's annual conference.

Ann Pilkington is a project communication consultant, trainer and author. Her consultancy experience includes major IT enabled change programmes within UK government particularly around the implementation of shared services and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.

Ann is the author of “Communicating Projects” published by Gower as well as a chapter author in “Exploring Internal Communication” published by Pearson. She also leads on communications for the APM People SIG.

As a founding director of PR Academy she has designed a new training programme specifically for project communicators and also teaches across a range of communication qualifications. She blogs at pracademy.co.uk and at communicatingprojects.co.uk

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Communicating projects

  1. 1. Communicating change Managing communication on change projects Ann Pilkington
  2. 2. Believing in the power of good communication to help projects succeed PR and PM: lots to learn from eachother……
  3. 3. But first, what is communication….? …the response you get back
  4. 4. Passengers must carry dogs on escalators Customer information
  5. 5. Is it really this simple? Shannon and Weaver ‘s linear model of communication from the 1940s
  6. 6. MASS MEDIA MASS MEDIA Isolated individuals constituting a mass Opinion leaders Individuals in social contact with an opinion leader Hypodermic model Two-step flow model Smith (2008: 38)
  7. 7. “The greatest problem with communication is the assumption that it has been accomplished” George Bernard Shaw
  8. 8. Soft skill?
  9. 9. What can we learn from the world of employee engagement?
  10. 10. COMMUNICATION Engagement ENGAGING MANAGERS Facilitate and empower. VOICE views are sought out; people see that opinions count. INTEGRITY Behaviour is consistent with stated values. MacLeod and Clarke (2009) Engaging for Success LEADERSHIP Provides a strong strategic narrative.
  11. 11. Professional Timely, clear, accurate, pertinent, consistent, sincere, concise, business-like. Reinforces believable values and narrative. Propaganda Content is biased and does not reflect reality. Reinforced by managers who show commitment to the project Informed employee voice Informed stakeholder voice
  12. 12. Advanced Based on people feeling well informed in the first place, face to face, actions taken as a result or reasons why action not taken provided. Basic Surveys, suggestion schemes, email boxes. Be open to critical feedback. Informed employee voice Informed stakeholder voice
  13. 13. It’s got to be a loop
  14. 14. Its not all sell, sell, sell
  15. 15. Right stakeholder, right message, right time
  16. 16. Right stakeholder, right time
  17. 17. Key question number 1: What does that stakeholder want from the project? Key question number 2: What does the project want from the stakeholder?
  18. 18. Stakeholders by role Sponsors Shapers Schedulers Users
  19. 19. Messages: keep it stakeholder centred There may be a number of parts to your project or lots of projects within your programme, but what matters to your stakeholder? Build your approach around them and their role. Ask what it means for a line manager, HR colleagues and operatives on the shop floor, then design your communication accordingly. Top tip: there is no such audience as ‘all employees’ or the ‘general public’.
  20. 20. You need a channel strategy
  21. 21. Channel objectives Awareness Newsletter Intranet Understanding Roadshows Video conferencing Support Training Involvement Team meetings Feedback forums Commitment Further team meetings Problem solving sessions Ongoing feedback Degree of involvement Degreeofchange (Quirke )
  22. 22. Dealing with ambiguity
  23. 23. Adapted from Harkins, P. 1999 Powerful Conversations: How high impact leaders communicate. McGraw Hill The say-do matrix
  24. 24. Tell a joined up story
  25. 25. Tell a joined up story It is likely that your project is just one of a number of change initiatives happening across your organisation. How are employees meant to make sense of it all? Set your project in the context of what else is happening – tell one joined-up story rather than leave stakeholders to work out how it all fits together. For your project team it may be the most important thing in their world, but employees might have much bigger concerns.
  26. 26. Communication and change: final thoughts •Sign post •‘What does it mean to me’ – NOT what is in it for me •Tell a joined up story – think story, not messages and bring in the external environment •Support managers •Always do what you say you will do – and if you can’t, explain why •Communicate in the right order; plan, plan, plan, by the hour if necessary
  27. 27. Lets put more resource into professional communication. It’s a false economy not to!
  28. 28. ann.pilkington@pracademy.co.uk Twitter: @AcademyAnn @PRAcademy

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