Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

6 Ways to Improve Your Communications and Project Success

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6-Ways-to-Improve-Your-Communications-and-Project-SuccessHuman interaction is hugely complex and I admit, it fascinates me, especially when it comes to persuading people to change. When I attended Barclay Rae’s breakout session on this topic at the recent SDI Annual Conference, I was not only looking forward to it, but I was also aware that we’d only scratch the surface of such a wide subject area within the allotted hour.

Barclay’s session, “Person to Person – ‘Human’ Skills for Service Management Success,” offered references to well-established communication and collaboration methods (such as NLP and storytelling), but what I really enjoyed was Barclay’s down-to-earth attitude and triumph of common sense.

Tweet this: Down-to-earth attitudes and common sense will help you succeed in any industry.

Below is a summary of his key points that I would like to see used more widely in IT service management (ITSM) and throughout the entire business world:

  1. Tell stories. Barclay gave a great example where a ‘road closed ahead’ sign was put duly in place. However the sign was ignored (or not read or not properly understood) by most people who then got stuck on the closed road. Applied to IT Service Management, it’s better to tell stories about why things are being done and the way they’re being done so that people take notice AND understand. According to Barclay, people need to realise that even very simple messages are missed. Storytelling provides a more lasting way to communicate than providing a few slides.
  2. Change culture, not rules. Another great example discussed drunk-driving where the law hasn’t drastically changed for decades, but people’s attitudes have changed society’s behavior for the better as drunk-driving became socially unacceptable.
  3. Be aware of your own style before you improve others’. Do you know how you work the most efficiently and what your preferred learning style is?
  4. Change people by understanding people. There are a number of techniques that help you put yourself in others’ shoes such as NLP, EIQ, Myers Biggs, and color wheels. Encouraging service desks to meet their customers face-to-face is a great step forward. Walk-up service desks are great at this, and many universities lead the way in this area.
  5. Simple and memorable reports are the most effective. As with stories, people don’t need pages and pages of reports. Keep it short. Get to the point. Cover what’s relevant. Cover what’s important to the person reading/receiving the report, not all the things that are important to you.
  6. Finally, be positive, professional, and productive. Collaborating effectively means working effectively. Tweet it.

To me, even the best guides and tools are only methods of how to get somewhere. The same system won’t work for everyone which is why the most important message requires acceptance and celebration of people’s differences. Only then can we collaborate, innovate, and create something amazing together that no one person could on their own. Stay positive and enjoy the gift of collaboration.