Day 5: Communication

Problem:

A product manager in your organization has asked you to manage a new program that will require coordinating with engineering teams in North America, Ireland, and Japan. What difficulties might you come across? How will you ensure all teams are collaborating while in different time zones?

Solution:

Before we look at a sample solution, let’s cover some fundamental communication concepts.

What is a communication plan? 

In program management, a communication plan is an outline of how you’re going to communicate important and ongoing program information to the program team and your stakeholders. Every communication plan will look different, but the value of a strong communication is universal. 

What are the benefits of creating a communication plan?
  • Clarifies communication goals and responsibilities
  • Quickly addresses important issues within the program
  • Builds camaraderie across teams
  • Creates a healthy forum that allows for the exchange of ideas
  • Keeps program teams and stakeholders informed and engaged

See the chart below for an example of what a communication plan might look like for the scenario presented by the interviewer: 

Now that you have an understanding of what a communication plan is and why it’s valuable, following are some sample responses to the problem: 

Q. What difficulties might you come across? 

When dealing with a complex international program, we might encounter difficulties with communication, collaboration, and visibility. Teams will be working in different time zones and the ability to keep everyone working cohesively will require more work and coordination from a TPM. As a TPM, I’m responsible for creating a strong communication plan to help keep our teams organized and in frequent communication, even when teams are on opposite sides of the world. 


Q. How will you ensure all teams are collaborating while in different time zones? 

In my previous roles, I’ve worked with teams to identify and document communication tools, templates, and timelines that help keep program members and stakeholders informed. I ensure all of my programs have a completed communication plan that has been reviewed and agreed upon for execution. I understand that communication planning is important because it helps establish our working relationships, provides clarity, and encourages teams and stakeholders to stay active and informed in their work. 

Communication is not just about speaking well. For a TPM, communication is the key to effective problem-solving, stakeholder management, decision-making, and more. You must keep this in mind when answering interview questions related to communication. To learn how to nail TPM interviews, join Interview Kickstart. Sign up for the Free webinar to learn more.

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Need more help with this topic? Write to help.curriculum@interviewkickstart.com

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