The Apollo manned missions to safely land humans on the moon and return them to safety to earth in 1968 and 1972 remain some of the most remarkable achievements in human history.
You are a small business leader and project manger, so you can appreciate the teamwork and innovation required to complete a project with the technology available.
Even though Apollo was 50 years ago, there are still valuable lessons for small business leaders and project managers to learn from the Apollo program.
Some of the most important lessons were learned from the Apollo team communication.
Five workplace communication tips from Apollo
If you are skeptical about the importance and value of team communication in major projects, here is a statistic from Project Management Institute: Nearly 30% of all failed projects are due to poor communication.
Project managers and small business leaders should look to highly skilled teams like the NASA teams that worked on Apollo as a model of workplace communication to increase project success.
Let’s get started.
Tip 1: Don’t panic, be calm. Tip 2: Use technology for communication. Tip 3: Get everyone involved in a conversation. Tipp 4: Honor the leader’s voice. Tips 5: Be direct in your communication
Tip 1: Don’t panic, be calm and be a role model
The Apollo 13 Mission Control crew works calmly to solve the oxygen problem (Source).
The Apollo 13 example: At the midpoint of Apollo 13 in 1970, astronauts Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert had plenty to worry about. Bad wiring caused a small explosion which exploded an oxygen tank, putting them more than 200,000 miles away from safety. The entire contents of the tank were leaked, which is not good when you are in space.
Instead of trying to steal oxygen from each other or desperately searching for a blackhole that would take them home, the astronauts calmly reported their problem to Mission Control in Houston. They then worked together to resolve the problem.
Mission Control’s team didn’t cry or start screaming, and they didn’t go home to hide under blankets. They worked together and the crew returned home safely.
The bottom line: Communication in the workplace is more effective when people are calm and cooperative. There will be times when you need to make urgent decisions, but there are never times when you should panic.
TalentSmart, a provider of emotional intelligence training, found that 90% of top performers are adept at managing their emotions during times of stress to maintain calm and control.
There will be a problem in your workplace eventually. As the project manager and team leader, it is your responsibility to set the tone for when this happens.
Your team will follow your lead if you lose your cool and go into red alert mode when there is a problem. They will follow your lead if you think through the problem, organize, mobilize and solve it with a clear mind.
TalentSmart suggests the following because it is difficult to stay calm.
Tip 2 – Use technology to facilitate communication
The S-band antenna was deployed on the lunar surface during the Apollo 12 mission (Source).
The Apollo example: It’s amazing to think that astronauts could communicate with earth in almost real-time in 1969 from nearly 250,000 miles away.
As if that weren’t enough, they managed to broadcast a live broadcast of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon by mounting a camera on its exterior.