The success of any Project depends up on the effectiveness of the communication between its various stakeholders. It is significant for the Project Manager to understand and to be understood. Communication needs to be clear and correct to avoid any misunderstandings and to be productive. A Project Manager is the key to the cycle of Project Communication and it can be said that about 80% of Project Management is all about communication. Therefore in order to ensure a smooth and successful project execution it is mandatory for the Project Manager to be a good communicator.
Communication is not a one way process. It is bidirectional and not limited to meetings, calls, letters, chats or mails. Messages can be communicated or understood even without any of these means through the body language and attitude. A Project Manager needs to understand this and should be smart enough to gather the information or deliver the message by choosing the most appropriate means of communication based on the project scenario.
Some of the most important points for productive project communication are as given below:
- Listen: To actively listen to others patiently and with empathy is one of the very essential skills to be mastered by a manager. Listening may be followed with the analysis of the information received. Common sense and logic is to be applied to decide the manner in which the information received by listening is to be utilized. It should be kept in mind that whatever a team member or stakeholder do not say is as important as whatever they say. Therefore as a Project Manager one has to be capable to listen and understand both of these.
- Communication Plan: It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to prepare a Communication Plan in order to facilitate efficient and effective Project Communication. A communication Plan should be prepared with the inputs from the Project Team and other key stakeholders and shall explain how communication will occur between various stakeholders of the project. The communication plan will comprise information on the objective of communication, the various channels and tools to be used, the target audience for each type of communication and the periodicity for communicating. A good communication plan would ensure that the information requirement of all the stakeholders are met and the project information is shared with all to an appropriate level in accordance with the contractual requirements on a timely basis.
- Body Language: A good amount of communications during meetings and interviews pass through nonverbal cues like gestures and body postures which are in most cases subconscious. Nonverbal communication can convey just as much as written and verbal communication, and therefore a Project Manager should be able to read and react to the information received in this manner. The body language of the Project Manager too conveys a lot of information about his management capabilities and personality. For example a firm handshake and steady eye contact speaks volume about your confidence level and leadership qualities.
- Tone, Clarity and Content: Care should be exercised to ensure that the tone of the communication befits the professional standards and should never be offensive. While criticism is acceptable while reviewing and analyzing the project, it should be done in a constructive manner without making it too personal. Project communication should always be clear, focusing on the key point to be communicated and should not sound too casual at any point of time.
- Spelling & Grammar: All project communications are expected to be free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. This does not mean that all stakeholders should exhibit the proficiency to the level of language and communication experts while handling the day-to-day communications of the project. But it is necessary for the Project Manager to be a good communicator with reasonably good language skills in order to manage the project in an efficient manner. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors would suggest poor communication skills, poor attention to the details and lack of seriousness towards the project. A poorly drafted message with many grammatical errors would be misleading and shall result in creating confusion among the stakeholders.
- Transparency: Maintaining the level of transparency permitted with in the boundaries of the contract and the organizational policies, in all project related matters ,will help a Project Manager to build a strong and stable relationship with the stakeholders and to gain their trust and support. A Project Manager who lies to the stakeholders, conceals vital information which are required to be conveyed to them, involves in the organizational politics and carries out the project activities in a shady manner is bound to fail in the long run and end up as a loser in his profession.
- Restate & Re-confirm: Ensuring that the message communicated is well understood is as important as communicating the message. It is always advisable to restate and confirm the communication made in case of any ambiguity. Communications shall not be based on assumptions to the best possible extend. However if assumptions are unavoidable, it shall be supported with logical and analytical explanations.
An efficient Project Manager is one who understands the role of effective communication for the success of the project. It should be remembered that communication is not just talking to each other. It is about sharing ideas, transferring knowledge, solving problems and team building. Project Communication Management is an area where efforts should be made to constantly improve and implement forums and facilities for better communication among the stakeholders. By doing so, a Project manager can ensure productive project communication which is a key to the success of the Project.