Many years ago, a good project manager might have gotten away
with being a poor communicator. The business clients typically
didnt like it, but as long as the project manager could deliver
the goods, the client may have been inclined to let them do their
own thing. In today's world, however, projects need to be
undertaken in partnership with the business, and this partnership
absolutely requires solid communication. In fact, many of the problems
that surface on a project are actually the results of poor communication.
Poor communication can lead to the following trouble areas.
Whats the solution?
Some project managers dont understand how to communicate well and are just poor communicators to begin with. If you think you are in this group, you should look for training or mentoring opportunities to become better skilled. However, in most cases, the problems with communication are not a lack of skills, but a lack of focus. Many project managers place communicating proactively on the bottom of their priority list. When they do communicate, it tends to be short and cryptic, as if they are trying to get by with the minimum effort possible.
The key to communicating is to keep the receiver as the focal point not the sender. Try to think about what the receiver of the communication needs and the information that will be most helpful to them. If you are creating a status report, put in all the information necessary for the reader to understand the true status of the project, including accomplishments, issues, risks, scope changes, etc. If you are going to need a resource in the future, communicate proactively with the resource manager as early as possible. Then keep reminding them of the need as the time gets closer. For the most part, if you ever surprise someone, it is a sign that you are not communicating effectively. (The only exception is when the project manager is also surprised.) The project manager should also communicate clearly with their team. If you find people are confused about their end-dates or if they are doing work they dont need to do, think about whether you communicated to them effectively.
Many projects have problems. Poor communication can cause many problems and aggravate others. On the other hand, proactive communication can help overcome many other mistakes. Dont consider communication to be a necessary evil. Instead, use it to your advantage to help your project go smoothly with less frustration, less uncertainty and no surprises.
Inc, specializes in methodology development, training and consulting in project management, Project Management
Office, Portfolio Management, and the project lifecycle.
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