Communication is key in Project Management

Communication is key in Project Management

Great Project Managers know that to successfully manage any given project from start to finish, they not only have to be knowledgeable on the Governance that makes up the role on a day-to-day basis; they also must understand the importance of communication throughout the project. In my humble opinion, this skill is perhaps of the most important skillsets a Project Manager needs to become great in their role. Communication is key!

Without strong communication skills, Project Managers will find that their role is incredibly difficult. From bordering on impossible when it comes to managing their teams, to coordinating their efforts needed to bring projects to a satisfactory closure within the timeline.

Below I will endeavour to explain why effective communication is important in project management, as well define the different types of communication that Project Managers themselves will likely engage in whilst practicing their chosen discipline.

The importance of effective communication

A Project Manager will have to perform a huge variety of different roles and responsibilities as part of their day-to-day tasks. The main responsibility being the coordinator of everyone’s roles within the project at hand, making sure that the shared goals are all achieved on time. To meet this target, the Project Manager must ensure that all the correct information is gathered, normalised, and then distributed to the right team member so that they can then in turn perform the task they are responsible for accomplishing.

Without a central point of communication, it is possible that actions can be duplicated by multiple players in the project; goals and milestones can be missed due to resources being misallocated; worst of all, the projects scope can drift beyond the point of what was originally intended. All of which could lead to costly amendments to the timeline or even project failure.

There are many different types of communication for Project Managers to utilise

In Project Management, there are a multitude of different types of communications and communication styles that can have impact throughout the project. Below, we will explore the different types and styles, along with the different “perspectives”.

    • Project Perspective – This can be broken down in to two different categories as they are below.
      • Internal communication – This would typically be the exchange of information between active members of the project team and the Project Manager.
  • External communication – This relates to the flow of information between the project team and the stakeholders who are not directly part of the project. This type of communication is typically more formal as it is aimed at, for example, a CEO.
  • Organisational Perspective You can usually break this perspective down into three categories.
  • Vertical – With this type of communication, information is shared between people who are on different hierarchical level within an organisation. It is a good way to bring any potential roadblocks to a manager best suited to be able to help mitigate the issues. It is also the way in which a Project Manager would report into their head of department or superior.
  • Horizontal – Here is where peers and colleagues would find themselves communicating with individuals on the same level as them, typically in a daily Scrum Meeting or stand-up.

  • Diagonal – This is generally reserved for businesses with greater organisational complexity and refers to when members from different divisions or departments may need to share information to achieve a common goal.

  • Formality Perspective – This can be split into two straightforward categories.
  • Informal – This is very much in line with the internal communications as mentioned above. It would typically consist of daily emails, touchbases and unplanned meetings, even project discussions around the coffee machine.

  • Formal – This is where reports and presentations to stakeholders would fall. As the information being shared in formal communications is being directed at a particular audience, these communications are generally highly polished, thought-out, and planned.

  • Channel Perspective – This is the method in which the information is shared, whether this is in person, written, remote or virtual. It is here where the Project Manager will have to make the decision on how best to portray their message, as it is dependent on the relationship between the PM and the intended audience. Certain methods of delivery can be misunderstood and be unwelcome. Sarcasm in an email may not be taken as it was intended, however if sarcasm when face to face is delivered with a smile, it is far more likely to be understood as it was intended.

Over time, a Project Manager will develop a relationship with stakeholders in their key accounts, which makes communication so much less of a worry. You will find that almost all conversations become easier, personalities can be better understood between the parties, and this goes a long way in aiding your company build further relations. Trust and honesty are going to be powerful tools for any PM to have. This is certain when it comes to dealing with not only their peers and team members, but the stakeholders they are involved with.

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