Good communication within the project team is essential for dealing with issues before they become problems, identifying risks, setting priorities and preventing the timeframe from slipping.
Freelancers are likely to be managing a virtual project team, one that is not located in the same building and often made up of other freelancers. They may not even be in the same time zone or country.
Freelancers work outside the normal reporting mechanisms of a company – often physically outside the building, as well as outside the organizational structure. Being outside the normal communication channels can bring challenges for project communication.
10 Top Tips for Effective Communication:
1/ Be sure that the whole team understand the project’s objectives and priorities from the outset. They will appreciate their role within the team and will be better able to identify problems early on.
2/ Language barriers can be an issue, even within English-speaking countries. Clarify terms and jargon in the initial stages to ensure that everyone understands what is meant.
3/ If you are sharing project documentation with the team, make sure they are able to open the files. Use software that everyone is able to download. You could use a system such as Dropbox to share large files and folders.
4/ You will need to share the project plan as it is updated – be sure all your team members have access to the right software so they can view it. You may need to spend some time on training to ensure the whole team is comfortable using it. The Useful Links section of this site has links to free project management applications.
5/ Often, your team members will not be able to physically get together in the same room. While face-to-face meetings are often viewed as an important part of a successful project team, especially in the initial stages, technology such as Skype and VoIP can enable video conferencing and conference calls as an inexpensive way of arranging team meetings.
6/ Be aware that your project team may very well have other projects on the go other than yours (especially if the team consists of freelancers). Establishing regular updates from your team can help keep your project on track.
7/ If you are working with a team from other countries, pay attention to cultural differences. A team member may be not be as overt as you in highlighting problems. Be sensitive: what are they really saying?
8/ You may need to work harder to boost the morale of your team members if you cannot physically get them in the same room. Using the phone instead of emailing or holding video calls can help bring some personality to your communication.
9/ Setting up a private forum such as Google Groups can help bridge time zones for discussing non-urgent aspects of the project with the whole team.
10/ Keep reviewing your communications to ensure that they are working effectually.