Vibe High

Communication Breakdowns: How to Avoid a Common Project Fail

In 29% of the projects deemed as “failures” reviewed in this 2017 study, inadequate/poor communication was cited as the primary cause of failure. That’s nearly one-third! Here are 5 ways to prevent communication breakdowns and set yourself up for success.

July 13, 2023


  1. Develop a Communication Plan 

One of the best things you can do to avoid unnecessary communication breakdowns is to have a clear and well-outlined communication plan. This is one of the first things you should do before digging into the project.

When creating this plan, you’ll want to customize it so that it works for your particular situation, however, it should include some of these basics in one form or another: 

    • Event-Specific Communication Protocols 
      • Lists of what should be communicated after specific events such as the development of weekly meetings or progress updates 
      • Should also include defined targets and deliverables for each person involved

    • Stakeholder-Specific Communication Protocols
      • Keeping both clients and other stakeholders updated 
      • List their preferences for communication (which channels, how often they should be contacted, what to include in messages) 

    • Communication Content and Channels 
      • Define what information needs to be documented and how often (daily or weekly progress updates, any hurdles or breakthroughs you come across) 
      • Identify which channels should be used to communicate this information 

  1. Use the Correct Communication Tools

Establishing which channels to use for which types of communication is key to avoiding a communication breakdown. Although tools like email are great for some communication types and content, they probably shouldn’t be your only option. 

At Vibe High, our communications practices include multiple channels to keep communication as organized and streamlined as possible. The channels that we use and their purposes are: 

    • Zoom calls for check-in meetings, onboarding calls, and consultations 
    • Asana for project tracking and all task-specific communication, updates and file-sharing (key to minimizing inbox overload!)
    • Slack chats for team communication, quick questions or anything requiring a more time-sensitive response 
    • Emails for updates that are too detailed for the other channels or for information that should be retained for reference

These channels are what work for us, but the most important thing is that the tools you use help you stay organized and that you’re assigning a communication channel that suits the type of communication. 

  1. Use a Collaborative Project Management Tool 

You can’t have effective collaboration without good communication – they are a package deal. 

Project management tools will allow your team to easily communicate and collaborate on projects within a single platform. When we are starting a project we always consider the technology resources that we need which includes a collaborative project management tool to make our communication processes as seamless as possible. We share more about our favourite project management tool here

The key to selecting a tool that’s right for you and your project is to make sure it fosters a cohesive and collaborative environment while also promoting task ownership and responsibility among team members. 

  1. Develop a Culture of Strong Communication 

Leaders that communicate well with their team members often have the practice laced into their work culture. In order to see a positive change in the way you communicate, you have to commit to developing that culture of strong communication which means: 

    • Practicing transparency: share your business strategy, hiring choices, project direction, etc.
    • Make it part of onboarding: when you bring on someone new, make sure communication is highlighted in the onboarding process. Choose people who already demonstrate strong communication skills. 
    • Use faster communication tools: when it comes to everyday communication, ditch email for something more efficient like Slack.

You, as a leader, should always be aware of communication weak points. This means adjusting your practices to fix the issue. The most important thing to note is that you should always be practicing intentional and deliberate communication. 

Deliberate communication is well thought out and purposeful. Think about how your message will be perceived by the receiver. Is it necessary, clear, and precise?

  1. Run Better Meetings

Meetings can be overused but they can also be underused! Meetings can be a great tool for bringing team members up to speed on project updates and processes and, they can provide great opportunities for collaboration – if planned and run correctly! When trying to decide how to incorporate meetings into your communication plan keep these things in mind: 

    • Making weekly meetings a consistent practice: even if there isn’t too much to update on, a short weekly meeting creates the space for collaboration and keeps things organized. 
    • Involve more team members in meetings: periodically involving other team members who may be interested or helpful to the project in the weekly meetings encourages collaboration and fresh ideas.
    • Have a clear agenda and established deliverables: approach each meeting with a fixed agenda so that you stay on track and achieve what you need each time. 

Effective communication is crucial to the success of all projects. At Vibe High, we make a point of providing clear, candid, proactive, and timely communication to ensure the success of our client’s projects.

If you’re interested in getting some support getting things done, reach out to us to discuss our guided accountability and project management package or project management services. Book a complimentary consultation today.