As a project manager, one of your primary goals is to keep your team on track and avoid delays wherever possible. But, unfortunately, sometimes unavoidable delays do occur and often come without warning. When this happens, it’s essential to effectively communicate project delays to your team and higher-ups in a way that minimizes frustration and keeps everyone moving forward.
How effectively communicate project delays
In this article, we will discuss how project managers can effectively communicate project delays with their team while also finding ways to improve efficiency and reduce further delays down the road.
Invest in the Right Communication Tools
One of the most critical aspects of project management is unified communication. To effectively communicate with your team, you need to have the right tools at your disposal. Thankfully, several excellent options are available that make it easy for everyone on the team to stay in touch and coordinate their efforts no matter where they may be.
Instant messaging tools like Slack, Whatsapp, and Skype provide open spaces for team members to communicate via text, voice, or video while also making it possible to organize information into channels based on topics or projects. This keeps everything organized and easily searchable by all users. Many of these applications also integrate with other tools such as Zoom meeting software and Google Drive, making document sharing quick and straightforward from within the application itself.
Project management tools like Basecamp and Asana provide all-in-one centralized places for the project and team management. Most of these applications are now cloud-based, meaning you never have to worry about losing data or upgrading software because it’s always the most up-to-date version. In addition, intelligent user interfaces and trackable project and sub-project statuses make it easy for team members to see what everyone is working on and provide a bird’s-eye view of the project as a whole.
Be Transparent and Honest
While it’s easy to point fingers and make excuses when delays happen, the best way to mitigate frustration within your team is by being totally transparent about what’s happening. When a delay occurs, explain why and how long you think it will take to resolve the issue so that everyone has an accurate picture of where things stand. If there are multiple issues causing delays on different aspects of the project, provide as much detail as possible with each one so that everyone knows exactly what they can expect.
When communicating with your team regarding these situations, always emphasize information over emotion. There may be times when you feel frustrated or angry about the situation but try not to let those emotions affect how you communicate with your team members because you run the risk of alienating them.
It’s important to note here that there are some cases where it might not make sense for everyone on your team to know the exact reasons behind unavoidable delays. For example, if there’s an issue with the server hosting your application and it looks like this might take a few days to fix, only those responsible for dealing with these kinds of problems need to be informed about them. Also, be sure not to overly focus on the technical details of a delay and instead explain that everyone can understand. This will help keep everyone in the loop without adding noise for those who don’t need all of that information.
Lastly, when it comes to transparency and honesty surrounding project delays, it’s vital to notify all parties impacted by the new timelines, especially external partners and clients. Sometimes there may be hesitancy to reveal temporary setbacks or even longer-term ones to clients in the fear that the updates themselves may give the appearance of instability or inconsistency on the part of the company. However, by holding yourself accountable to the client’s expectations and openly discussing when your project milestones fall short at times, you’ll build a stronger foundation of trust and loyalty. When you establish this trust, it almost always gives you additional flexibility from the client to iron out wrinkles in the process and get past unexpected timeline delays without damaging the relationship.
Give a Timeframe for When and How Things Will Get Back On Track
Once the delay has been communicated and everyone understands the situation, it’s crucial to provide a timeframe for when things will get back on track. This helps team members plan their work around the current delay and prevents them from becoming frustrated or anxious about completing their tasks.
While timelines can naturally shift throughout the project duration, it’s essential to be as accurate as possible when initially giving them out. This helps ensure that team members aren’t caught off guard by sudden changes and can instead plan their work around the new reality. Tracking timelines also helps to ensure accountability among all parties involved.
Keep Everyone Updated as New Information Arises
When initial delays occur, it’s natural for team members to start asking a lot of questions. “What’s going on? Why is this happening? What can we do to help?”, etc. As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to answer these questions as best you can and keep everyone updated as new information arises.
This might mean sending out regular updates via email, instant messenger, or even posting in a team chatroom. It’s also important to be available to answer any additional questions that team members may have. By doing all of this, you’ll help keep everyone calm and collected while also ensuring that no one falls too far behind on their work.
If there is an ETA for getting things back up and running, be sure to share that as well. This will help team members know how long they can expect to be dealing with this particular issue. And if at all possible, try and keep everyone updated on the progress so that they always have a clear idea of what’s going on.
Remain Calm and Positive
When dealing with delays, it’s essential to remain calm and positive. This is because your team will look up to you for guidance during these times, and if they see that you’re stressed out or anxious about the situation, this can potentially cause them to feel the same way.
While it may be tempting to blame others when a delay occurs, especially in cases where there was some human error involved, doing so isn’t going to help get things back on track any faster and could also have negative consequences down the road. So instead, try focusing your efforts on finding solutions rather than placing blame — this is ultimately what everyone needs at this time anyway.
Gain Additional Skills and Training in Project Management
If you find that your team is constantly hitting roadblocks due to delays, then it may be time for you to gain additional skills and training in this area as the project manager.
There are many different types of training available to project managers that help in the development of soft skills and problem-solving abilities. Taking a course or seminar in project management can help ensure that you’re always up-to-date on the latest best practices and can more effectively navigate any potential delays that may come your way.
It’s important to remember that delays are simply a part of doing business, and there will always be some amount of risk involved in any project. However, with proper communication among all parties involved, it is possible to effectively communicate project delays and reduce the likelihood of these delays occurring and mitigate their impact when they do happen.
By following the steps outlined above, you’ll have more success managing your projects and avoiding unnecessary delays as much as possible.