3 Common Communication Issues for IT—And How to Fix Them

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Recently, I worked with a pair of IT project managers who struggled to communicate in some very common ways:

  • 1. No stakeholder communication: They didn’t measure or report on their project activities and progress. Not only did their silence make their bosses and stakeholders nervous, it prevented them from making any necessary course-corrections if they went off track.
  • 2. Too verbose: They talked a LOT and provided way, way too much technical detail. Their stakeholders (or really anyone they spoke too) needed them to speak succinctly while providing only relevant information.
  • 3. Paralysis by Analysis: One of these IT professionals always thought of so many options he never got anything done. He couldn’t get out of his head on his own, and he didn’t reach out to others to help him think through options.

Serious issues, right? Unfortunately, they are very common among IT professionals. While they speak to some deeply ingrained habits and modes of thinking that can be challenging to rewire, there are a few quick, tactical solutions I offered that helped move these two IT pros in the right direction.

  • 1. Report on the most important metrics: Determine the few metrics your stakeholder needs to track to determine your process on the project. Keep the number as small as possible. Create a shareable spreadsheet featuring these metrics, and update and share the spreadsheet once a week with your stakeholder.
  • 2. Say it in 10 seconds: Always aim to say whatever you have to say in 10 seconds or less. This forces you to focus on communicating the important metrics, using as few words as necessary. This will take some practice—if you have an upcoming meeting, take some time beforehand reducing each of your points to this 10-second sound bite.
  • 3. Include others in your decision-making process. If you can’t make a decision on your own, then don’t make decisions on your own! Pick a colleague who is more decisive than you are, and ask them to talk through potential next steps with you. When you pick an option, stick to it.

These are small adjustments, but they make a big impact. And considering how common these communication problems are in IT, making even small improvements to your communication abilities will really make you stand out!

This post was written by Lee Reese, VP of Corporate Accounts. 

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