Dear PM Advisor. Sep 8, 2014

Dear PM Advisor, In your Project Management experience, how do you manage the individual working styles? For example I worked in project where the development team is in the UK. The typical problem I faced was a team member who overwrites in my email and sends it back. I spend hours understanding what is his response to my email. 

Muddled in Mumbai

Dear Muddled,

Remember that 90% of Project Management is communiucation. Communication is difficult enough when we all speak the same language. Everyone has developed their own way of communicating and it rarely matches anyone elses. Witness almost every married couple for examples of how people who live together daily miscommunicate.

It gets much harder on global projects where some use English as a second language. Here are some things I have done to help facilitate communication in these environments:

  1. When English is a struggle, require a translator with the group who uses English as a second language during status meetings
  2. Speak slowly and pause for translations during long speeches
  3. Use as little jargon as possible unless it is well-known by all participants
  4. Set up ground rules for e-mail communication, talking over each other, etc.
This last rule might help with your specific problem. What you are saying the team member does seems pretty reasonable to me not having seen the results. When I receive an e-mail with a lot of questions, I answer next to each question and write "Answers within your text for clarity' in the body of my response.
Perhaps your problem child doesn't format his answers obviously. I recommend using a different color, bold my responses and make sure there is a carriage return between each response. 
Good luck,
PM Advisor
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