- Successful project managers must possess a unique combination of skills and experience, including excellent communication skills.
- But communication in the world of project management differs from effective communication in other leadership roles.
- This article is part of CEOWORLD magazine’s ongoing series on C-Suite Advisory.
- Visit the CEOWORLD magazine homepage for more articles.
Here are some communication techniques that can help project managers be more effective in their roles.
Project managers have to wear several different hats. They monitor deadlines, closely monitor details, and generally do whatever is necessary to keep everything on track. The ability to communicate is crucial in balancing these responsibilities.
It takes more than ordinary communication skills to achieve effective project management. Transparent communication with the C suite helps project managers to effectively define issues, delegate tasks, and seek feedback from appropriate stakeholders.
Why are communication strategies in project management so essential? According to a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 44% of respondents said poor communication resulted in delayed or incomplete projects. Simple dialogue between project managers and high level decision makers can help minimize such occurrences.
Why is effective communication important in project management?
When discussions break down between project managers and business leaders, there is usually a common reason: Executives are so dispersed that it can be difficult to check with project managers for updates.
That said, the relationship most project managers have with executives can be more strained than their relationship with vice presidents and other department heads. At these levels, leaders are more used to sharing frequent updates, including successes and failures. During this time, executives tend to only hear from project managers when an issue moves up the ladder. This often means that successes are not appreciated while project managers are irritated by having only bad news all the time.
Keeping big and small obstacles at bay in project management will require leadership and project managers to stay on the same page. Stakeholders should remain accessible and accessible to their project managers to discuss status updates.
In turn, project managers should take the initiative to frequently check in with management, share updates, and get feedback on issues before they get out of hand. There is a human instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so it is unnatural for most people to approach problems before they become problems.
For project managers, the fate of any business rests on an ability to communicate problems and address them directly.
How to lead and communicate projects clearly
When project managers have a lot of work to do, they may struggle to find the time and resources to engage with stakeholders and superiors, but it’s vital to the health and speed of your people. projects.
Here are five actionable project management communication strategies to deploy:
- Build a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
What is a work breakdown structure, you ask? In short, it is a template used by project managers to solve problems in a concise and efficient manner. A WBS makes a seemingly overwhelming project less intimidating through delegation and crystallized communication.
With a WBS, a process and terminology can emerge. Once this is in place, a project manager and relevant stakeholders can stay on the same page, reducing the potential risks and redundancies associated with an unclear division of labor.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of communication with stakeholders in project management. No matter how talented your project managers are, your project cannot stay efficient and on track without consistency. A WBS provides this structure.
- Use comprehensive dashboards that summarize the status of the project.
Thirty-nine percent of projects fail due to lack of planning and a clearly defined goal – essentially, a lack of communication in project management. This figure shows how crucial planning is.
A dashboard keeps all parties accountable, on track, and informed of the latest progress. Create a dashboard that summarizes the status of each project. Then fill that platform with metrics relevant to the success or failure of your initiative.
With this information in one place, project managers can articulate results, identify successes and failures, and continue to ask the questions needed to smooth the project out and keep everything on track.
- Manage while walking.
A Management Events study found that 79% of senior executives still prefer face-to-face meetings. When possible, take a conference room or table with your project manager and discuss the latest updates.
There is something about the connection that you can make with people when you are physically in the same space. It helps you get to know your project management team better personally and professionally, which inherently facilitates the communication and practice of effective project management.
- Create written status reports.
Sometimes relevant information about the project gets lost in verbal communication. Written communication, whether through short or long reports, can present a multitude of conclusions and ideas.
Written progress reports hold stakeholders accountable for their measures of project management effectiveness and help clarify responsibilities. Also, be sure to document and archive them so you can track progress over time while identifying any delays or bottlenecks.
- Develop resource allocation reports.
Resource assignments help clarify responsibilities and ensure coordination of your project management team. They also help minimize inefficiencies and overuse, as every task is delegated and every expense is identified.
Additionally, these reports help with exception handling, a practice many executives use to highlight issues and see what is not going as expected. Exception management then becomes part of a root cause analysis that anyone can use to communicate a plan to get back on track.
These are the basics of control. Without these fundamental documents and processes, projects run the risk of spiraling out of control. The more you can adhere to these project management communication strategies, the more likely your projects are to avoid sticking points and be successful in the future.
Written by Gus Cicala.
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