Communicating Effectively

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Communicating is something we are involved in all the time. The question is; what are we communicating? If we look at the Business Dictionary online we can read that communication is a “two-way process of reaching mutual understanding […] in business, it is a key function of management” (BusinessDictionary.com, 2013). Communication is not only words (written or oral), but also influenced by tone, body language, timing, and the personality of the recipient (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d). I might say something as a joke, but the recipient does not get the joke, and we have a misunderstanding that can become a conflict.

A message could be received and understood in different ways depending on the way it is communicated. In this task for this blog, we received the same message as an email, a voice message over the phone, and a face-to-face message in a video. The message itself was informal, from one co-worker to another asking for help with a report. I did miss some information in the message, but that might be implicit, like what report is missing and what data does the sender want.

The written email made me read it several times to get the meaning. This since it were written as if the sender were talking. I understood it was urgent with the report. When I heard the message spoken it became easier to understand the urgency, but this time it felt more as a formal request. The last version was a video where the person spoke and this time I did not feel the urgency with the report. It gave me more the feeling of “how can we solve this together” or asking for advice.

Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d) talked about written communication when he said it has to begin with a clear purpose, state the situation and include possible solutions. I would state that this can also be applied to oral communication. Even though misunderstanding in an oral communication can be resolved quicker and easier when you talk to someone (voice-to-voice or face-to-face).

Which form of communication that is the best when we communicating with a project team depends on the content. Sometime informal one-to-one meetings are the best. Especially when it is about “interactively exploring and clarifying special issues of interest to a small number of people” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008). Also, formal meeting face-to-face could be efficient, if they are planned and prepared. Face-to-face meeting makes it possible to discuss and make sure information is not misunderstood. Any oral communication should be documented (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d).

References

Communication. In Business Dictionary, Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/communication.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders [DVD]. In Series Title. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

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This blog post is about past projects that I have worked on that did not succeed. What we have learned so far in the course is that a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008). “A project has a distinct beginning and end” (Russell, 2000); otherwise it probably is a process.

Looking in my personal life I have worked on various projects; wallpapering a room, creating a couple of websites (for church and for line dance group), and planning several parties (birthday, wedding). Those projects were successful, mostly because I am a structured person that even if I do not write project plans, creating a budget and keeping track of time; I will do does things in my head.

Looking at my professional life I have not been involved in any project, besides the one we did when I was a student. That was in a course of project work, and there we did make project plans, risk analysis and developed a software application to an external client. Since we learned how to work in a project we of course had some issues on the way, but the result was a success.

Russell (2000) also write “whether it is developing a new course, adapting an existing course, finding the right self-paced solution, rolling out the right training administration program, or hiring the right external supplier, you are constantly working on projects”. I have never considered those tasks as project since that is my everyday work. Mostly because I am both the Subject Matter Expert (SME), the Instructional Designer (ID) and instructor at the same time. As a teacher in a Swedish University, you are all these roles. There is no ID to go to with your request of developing a new course or adapting an existing; it is my job as the teacher. Problem is that, if I look at my work right today, I handling past, present and future courses at the same time. I have to correct and give feedback and grades to students in the course that ended Sunday. I also am handling the students in the new course that started Monday (I will soon have exercise time with them). As soon as I find time I also have to plan for the course I am assigned to that starts in January, which is totally new to me, and I have to learn the subject to be able to teach it. Where is the time to actually do planning, organizing and controlling the work? You just find time here and there, and do it as well as you can, hoping for the best.

 

References

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Russell, L. (2000). Project management for trainers. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.