Communication breeds success, says IBM executive Sharon Nunes on Bloomberg Businessweek, and managers should not fear transparency when dealing with supervisors, superiors or clients.
Nunes says: "Figuring out how to build consensus about projects large or small is becoming one of the great head scratchers of our age. Our society is more informed than ever because of the Internet and the unending ways – Google, the iPhone, blogs – we can immediately tap into data.
"More information, though, often leads to more complexity, opinions, debates, and yes, squabbles."
This means leaders can no longer manage in the old ways, says the author. She insists: "We can't keep information to ourselves or work behind closed doors or listen to just a small cohort of advisers."
Nunes insists that for a project to succeed, it is essential to "communicate, communicate and communicate again".
In fact, over-communication is the order of the day. Development must be transparent and flexibility should be an "automatic instinct".
However, as Nunes points out, it's one thing to know we need to take a different approach and another thing to actually do it. She shares some lessons she has learned to help managers put projects on the path to success.
1) Start with a small pilot. Nunes says: "Whether you're a government agency or a start-up, get input and buy-in from the very beginning. A focused pilot gives you the chance to engage people as representatives for the larger population.
She adds: "Make sure these folks are participants, not recipients. You're in this together. You'll sink or swim depending on what they think. Encourage them to share their insights and act on their suggestions."
2) Be loud and clear about goals. Make sure you articulate the impact you expect from the work you're doing. If you need to change course, explain how and why. Don't be afraid to own up to mistakes or talk about successes.
3) Engage discussion. Feedback from your team as well as your client is important. You need to establish a conversation and work through the issues, making improvements. You should both sell your idea and be prepared to adapt it to achieve success. Also, make sure you get input before you do something, not just after you've done it.
4) Communicate with your superiors. If your project is to succeed, you need your bosses to understand what it will accomplish and the return it will offer to ensure they back your work. Nunes says: "Because we're now gathering a lot more input from others, it's also more important than ever to keep our bosses in the loop."