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There Is No Simple Guide

April 25, 2024

Freshconstruct PMs Ferenc Dudás, Robert Eke and Anna Vámos talked about communication barriers and how to deal with them. Anna Vámos jotted it all down.

Q: What do you do when someone on your team is difficult to communicate with?

A: It depends on why this is, there could be so many reasons. Is it a language difficulty? Are they shy or just don’t really have good communication skills?

Everyone communicates differently, we all have our own style. Most people are good at communicating from day one, but some do need a bit of coaching or just more time to open up.

It can take a while to get to know someone and find the best way to work with them.

If someone is for example brilliant at programming, but not the best communicator, PMs can help with that. Years ago, I had someone on my team who struggled with speaking at stand-ups. So, we started having short one-on-ones every day and I checked on him more often than the others. As he got to know the project and the team better, he gradually became comfortable with speaking in front of them. This is extra work for PMs of course and it needs time. But usually, it’s well worth it – it’s wonderful to see people thriving eventually in this aspect as well.

Sometimes we skate on very thin ice when it comes to communication. If people are forced into situations, they’re uncomfortable with, the quality of their work will eventually suffer. It’s best to catch these cases early and continuously find solutions without holding up the actual project work. It’s quite a task to strike the right balance.

A mentoring system can help too, that’s what we’re trying to develop at Freshconstruct at the moment.

Of course, this is not easy either, mentors need to have a good mix of professional knowledge, empathy, psychology and patience and keep in mind what’s best for the project. If done well, it’s a good investment for the whole company.

Of course, working internationally and remotely brings on a whole load of situations in which communication can go wrong. As deadlines approach, communication can also suffer. Sometimes a very quick Slack Huddle can do the trick. Also, giving proper notice before someone needs to present their work in front of e.g. the client helps, we can have a call to prepare and practice.

People need to know who they can talk to, ask questions and honestly ask for help if need be.

Humor can help too, once we’ve had a good laugh and let the steam out, we can then think it through together properly and make it work.

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