The COVID-19 virus spreading and hampering public sector project management efforts worldwide. Team members are being forced to collaborate online with no face-to-face interaction. With a dispersed team, communication becomes even more critical than with a co-located team. Depending upon the source, studies have found that between 60 percent and 80 percent of all communication between people is non-verbal; the rest is via text or spoken words. With your remote team, you’re losing half of the meaning, intent and facts that need to occur. Therefore, communication becomes even more critical than with a remote project team.
Here are four tips for public sector leaders who find themselves restricted to remote communication with their project teams during this outbreak.
4 Communication Tips for Remote Project Team Managers
- Personally reach out to each member. Get to know them, find out what their interests are, what they like about their work, what else they’re working on, etc. The initial meeting is a starting place for this, but the effort continues.
- Let the team get to know you. Be an inclusive leader but let your team see you as a “person” and not just their manager. It is very easy to stick to business, get things done, and move on to the next task. Take time to actually talk to your team members if they join a call early. Call them individually to ask about their work on the project, or ask for any advice they may have for you. These calls can usually include some “personal” discussion. The more they know about you and you about them, the easier things will be when the stressful times come.
- Use video conferencing when you can. It’s good to see your team members and be able to pick up on non-verbal communication. There are high-quality video and audio options available if your laptop’s webcam and speakers are not adequate.
- Keep your project sponsor well informed every step of the way. Speak freely about the team members, progress made, obstacles the team members are facing. Bring your project sponsor solutions and ask for advice when needed.
Charles Lewing is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. A Louisiana native, he graduated from McNeese State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance. He later earned his MBA in 2001. He relocated to Houston, Texas and worked in various finance and accounting roles for a number of healthcare organizations. In 2016, he relocated to West Texas to pursue a career in public financial leadership. He currently serves as the Reeves County Auditor. Charles is very passionate about inclusive management, LEAN six sigma, and improving operational efficiency through leveraging technology. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and reading spy novels. You can read his posts here.