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Author  Duncan Wade

Duncan is the lead trainer and author of the PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile courses offered by Learning Tree International.

November 4, 2021 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Project management
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

The past year has brought the importance of communication and collaboration into focus.

Technology has enabled many people and organizations to achieve better, virtual communication but it’s less easy to form collaborative project teams.

This has prompted the need to be consciously deliberate in using methods to make project management work.

Planning and managing change

PRINCE2 has always talked about planning for control but also as a means of adding another mechanism for communication.

So, with a good plan, you need to be sharing information about it while tracking what’s happening and whether you are achieving your goals.

The experience of the pandemic has been a wake-up call that we can’t be so casual about planning in projects; we need go back to first principles and not pay lip service to them.

The key skills and approaches

Project managers and team members will need a general capability for virtual and physical working which means being part of a team that is sometimes together and other times not.

So, the project manager needs to adjust accordingly to make things work.

For example – if possible – having teams together physically is important during project kick-off. It provides a foundation stone of collaboration before having to work as a team remotely.

And this affects not only teams split cross different countries; even teams normally co-located may be mostly virtual now.

Managing miscommunication

Communication in adverse circumstances requires project managers to be conscious of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

The result of a communication is what someone does next. So, you need to be able to talk about the intent of an instruction and then follow up.

In some circumstances, it may seem rude to monitor people in this way; it’s easier if both sides realize it’s important to have this level of communication to clarify and confirm next steps. It’s not about lack of trust, just a lack of physical proximity that makes it difficult.

Good plans serve as communications devices. Therefore, after emailing a plan to a remote team it’s valuable to organize a follow-up meeting to confirm intentions, timeframes and resources.

Glad, sad and mad

How will a project manager be aware – in a virtual world – of team interactions or personalities that are not working well?

It’s necessary to create an environment where people share things and focus on the softer issues of teamworking as well as the hard, task-driven jobs. This means encouraging people to go beyond rote pleasantries to offer real insight into how they’re feeling, what’s going well or not and who is driving them crazy!

Agile working practices favour retrospectives and part of that, also covered in PRINCE2 Agile, is the concept of “glad, sad and mad”: glad being what you’re satisfied with; sad is what makes you disappointed and mad is where frustration is coming from.

You can’t write a project management process about how to get on with others but by describing it as something beyond the process or method helps make these vital issues more visible. By incorporating glad, sad and mad, PRINCE2 Agile has shown how you can incorporate agile delivery techniques in everyday project management.

So, in 2022, holding a once-a-month, 30-minute meeting to discuss this among a team adds to the controls a project manager traditionally relies on. People management is core to any successful endeavour. The idea of an environment where people are open, honest, feel valued and trusted now has greater credence after the past 18 months.

And unless organizations get this right, there are consequences that are just beginning to surface: people changing jobs or even tearing up contracts because of their pandemic work-life experiences.