Training in project management techniques such as PRINCE2 will give you the theory of how to structure and run a project. We’ll also give you case studies and real-world applications of the knowledge to make it easier to start managing projects when you return to work. Understanding the importance of other skills such as communication is also critical to project success.
Within any project management framework, there are important documents to be drawn up, referred to and maintained. This requires excellent written communication skills as well as knowledge of the paperwork required. Verbal communication skills are necessary in order to keep your team updated and motivated, to explain the project to stakeholders, and to provide the Project Board with progress reports.
With that in mind, here are our top tips for communication in project management.
When most people think of effective communication, they think of how they deliver information to others. This is far from accurate – communication is a two-way street and improving your skills must begin with making an effort to truly listen and understand.
For all communication, whether written or verbal, avoid the trap of thinking about how you will respond before the other person has finished. If this is a habit of yours, it will take practice, but you will find that all your communications are improved as a result. Whilst listening, make sure your body language confirms this. If you’re reading a report or briefing, try not to judge the content or draft your reply in your mind until you’ve finished. You may find that any initial concerns you have are relieved later in the document.
Watch Body Language
As well as making sure your body language reflects your willingness to communicate, keep an eye on that of others. If you’re briefing the team with an important revision to the plan, be aware of people’s stance, posture and levels of eye contact – these may give you clues as to which members of your team are not listening.
Bridge the Gap – Adaptability
As we mentioned in our post on what to look for in a project manager, being a PM is about being in the middle of the action. It’s up to you to receive and understand information from one person and pass that message on to another person with completely different knowledge and communication style. This will often mean rewriting reports to have less jargon or thinking about how to communicate a supplier issue to the User in the most effective way. A great project manager can adapt their communication style to the group/individual they are speaking to.
Being Clear and Concise
Within the project environment, it’s important to ensure everyone shares the same understanding of what needs to be done.
The key to being clear as above is being concise. It may seem more effective to go into detail with every communication but the more you say/write, the more scope there is for misunderstanding.
This means that meetings or briefings with your project team should end with a short of the topics covered and confirmation of the specific action that needs to be taken by all parties.
Understand the Role of Emotion
It would be easy to say that emotion has no role in the workplace, but without emotion there would be no motivation. Motivation is based on loyalty and trust, both of which are rooted in feelings as well as logic. Understanding your team and what drives them individually and collectively is a great start to motivating them. (Here are some more tips for managing a project team.)
It’s impossible to communicate effectively if you are not calm. You need to plan what you are going to say in order to be clear and concise, and to ensure you are adapting your language and tone to the appropriate audience. People may be distracted by your manner and body language and not listen – or even distrust the decisions you are communicating. We can help, though, with our post on keeping calm when projects go wrong!
Similar posts you may like:
- Writing a Great Scope Statement
- Explaining Projects to Stakeholders – 5 Tips
- What to look for in a Project Manager
- The Philosophy of Project Management
- Where to Start With Improving Project Management