How Successful Project Managers Handle Communication

There is a difference between ‘good’ communication and ‘effective’ communication and it is critical for project managers to understand this difference. According to a recent industry report, the most vital factor driving project management success is effective communication with the team and stakeholders. Further, effective communication could result in greater success in projects thereby allowing companies to achieve higher standards of performance.

Think of communication as the glue which holds team members together. A successful and experienced project manager understands that communication isn’t merely talking; rather it also entails listening to your team members and other stakeholders. In the absence of clear, precise and timely communication, even small working teams could face serious problems. In fact, if you’re working with a virtual project team, lack of effective communication could make this challenging situation almost impossible to manage.

Communication Plan

A comprehensive stakeholder analysis can help a project manager and his team to understand the communication requirements. A plan for communication management can help organize and record the process, expectations and variety of communications. Such a plan may include the following details

  • Communication requirements of stakeholders so as to provide relevant information as needed by this group
  • The ‘what’ of communication: expected content, format and details (e.g. fast email updates vs. project reports)
  • Suitable methods of communication including emails, reports, press releases and memos
  • Details on the flow of vital information to the right individuals while the project is still being implemented.

Resolving Conflicts through Effective Communication

Conflicts are bound to arise in a project – but a successful project manager has the right set of communication skills and tools to resolve such conflicts. Generally, conflicts are related to technical challenges, project priorities, personalities, process, staffing and procedures. There are several different modes of handling project conflicts. Two of them are mentioned here:

Confrontation Approach: In this type of conflict resolution communication, a project manager will face the conflict upfront with the help of a problem-solving technique which allows working through disagreements. The approach is the most effective mode of communication and commonly adopted by project managers for resolving conflicts.

Compromise Approach: In this type of communication, a project manager may turn to a ‘give-and-take’ method for resolving conflicts. Both parties will agree to a bargain and look for solutions which can help achieve some level of satisfaction t

A successful project manager will ensure that there is effective tracking and assessment of the project status through various tools. It is crucial to generating relevant and timely information in this regard. The project manager needs to follow the right email formats for formal communication and be clear and precise when communicating with his/her team.

Stakeholders typically require a variety of different information and this usually depends on their specific interest in the ongoing project or/and importance of that project. The communication requirements of stakeholders can be established through the following:

  • Organization charts
  • Need for external and internal information
  • Project structure in the organization
  • Departments/teams involved in the project
  • Stakeholder information and responsibility relationships
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