Team Communication

Communication among the team members is fundamental to the accomplishment of the project's tasks. To prevent teamicide, everyone, managers and team members alike, must attempt to use the preferred channel of communication to transmit information so that the receiver can truly hear the message. Preferred communications channels for Kahler's PCM are shown in Table 6-12. You probably don't want to say to a reactor, "I don't care how you feel about it, you must take the lead to improve the bottom line!"

Table 6-12. Preferred Channel for Communication

PCM Type

Preferred Channel for Communication

Examples

Dreamer

Direct

Allow private time: "Work on this at home"

Workaholic

Informative

Clarify issues: Provide facts and data

Reactor

Nurturative

Verbal "strokes": "I'm pleased you are here to work on this"

Rebel

Emotive

Playful interaction: "Wow, what a wonderful idea!"

Persister

Informative

Acknowledge beliefs: "What is your opinion?"

Promoter

Direct

Focus on excitement and activity: "Go for it!"

Other communication issues within a project leader's control are bureaucracy and clique repression. Bureaucracy involves too much overhead for the communications channel. Cliques are "clubby" groups of people who establish exclusive subgroups within a team. Cliques cause information isolation.

Other communication issues within a project leader's control are bureaucracy and clique repression. Bureaucracy involves too much overhead for the communications channel. Cliques are "clubby" groups of people who establish exclusive subgroups within a team. Cliques cause information isolation.

As the team size grows, the number of two-way communications paths increases rapidly according to the formula, where n is the number of participating team members, producing the rapidly rising curve irFiqure 6-4.

Figure 6-4. Communications Paths Growth

Figure 6-4. Communications Paths Growth

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This creates overhead in the form of bureaucracy and increases the potential for error and misunderstanding (especially when the team members' native languages are not the same).

For example, the number of communication paths in various-size projects that we looked at earlier gets complicated very quickly (see Table 6-13). For illustration, very large projects of 50 people or more (typically a program) are also shown.

Table 6-1

3. Example Communications Paths

Project Size

Calendar Months

Typical Staff Size (n)

Maximum Number of Two-Way Communications Paths

Small

Less than 3

Less than 3

Medium

3-9

3-15

3-105

Large

More than 9

More than 15

Hundreds

Very Large (Program)

More than 1 year

More than 50

Thousands

As team size grows, the tendency for cliques to form goes up, often around geographic centers. This phenomenon is why the leader must provide a strong framework for the team to operate within. Even simple things such as providing a common team glossary help tremendously. The project leader must decide how much communication is enough and when it is too much.

Those personalities in the project team that require structure, ritual, and direction (e.g., PCM: dreamers, promoters; MBTI: SPs; Keirsey: guardian SJs) will want them more than the independents and rebels of the group. The People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM), from the Software Engineering Institute is a framework to start with, but the project leader must judiciously adopt only the procedures that fit the team and project size, to minimize communication errors.

A useful tool from the P-CMM set is the Functional Responsibility Matrix, shown in Figure 6-5.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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