I was reading. It was a great novel, thoroughly engaging and the story line was excellent. It was a real page turner. For some reason my attention was drawn away from my book and I realised that there was silence all around me.
I was with my wife in Terminal 5 at Heathrow on the way to Washington DC awaiting our plane. There was a delay, hence me with my head in my book. The silence was because the pilot of our BA flight had come to speak to all of us.
A moment later he told us that there was a technical problem on the plane – the cargo door would not close and they hoped to have it fixed. I was impressed; the captain of the plane coming out to tell us the cause of our delay. Indeed, I was so impressed that I sent a tweet to say so.
I went back to my book and was soon immersed in the story line; a chase around the US, intrigue and motels!
But, all was not well. I could hear people were restless:
- why can’t they tell us what’s going on?
- surely it can’t take this long to repair the door?
- I’m hungry Mum…..
Despite the best efforts of the pilot, there was clearly unrest.
I decided to put my book down and go for a walk. About 15 minutes later I came back and I asked the desk staff if there was any update. I was disappointed; there was no further news and what’s more, the staff seemed clueless. About an hour after the pilot spoke to us, he spoke to us again informing us that there had been a possibility of us not flying that day; however that had receded, but he could not tell us when we would be flying.
Now this was clearly a difficult situation for BA. They had a plane load of passengers, a plane that could not fly, and an engineering issue that needed sorting. I asked myself (and this seemed to be the message others were saying), could they have done more to keep us informed? It was after all a near 3 hour delay….
Let’s switch away from BA and look at projects. My company Project Agency has been carrying out an ongoing survey with clients, including project communications. The figures have remained pretty constant with 68% of project staff questioned saying that project communications are poor, or very poor.
Like the BA example, it’s in real time i.e. happening now. How much energy and effort is put into really trying to communicate with key stakeholders by the project team, project manager and project sponsor? Of course BA could have done more, much more. Could you do more to keep your stakeholders informed – including the bad news?
Like the desk staff at BA who were in the dark about what was happening how many project team members are in the same situation? More energy and much more effort needs to be put into communicating in projects.
The statistics do not lie, and unfortunately have not improved over the years.
So ask yourself this; how effective are you at communicating in your projects – with key stakeholders, with the team, and with the project sponsor? Until you know you cannot do anything about it.