Ineffective communication may be a key factor contributing to the challenges in your projects.
Communication is a vital aspect of our daily lives, and the success of a project is closely linked to the efficacy of its communication process and activities. According to Ascertra's study, ineffective communication significantly contributes to at least one-third of project failures. Forbes also highlighted communication failure as the foremost reason for the lack of success in enterprise IT projects. Interestingly, it was pointed out by Forbes that communication aims to establish 'rapport,' intending to share information, ideas, and attitudes within the project team. It's crucial for a communicator to avoid assuming that the receiver will interpret the message exactly as the sender intended. Communication is dynamic and multifaceted. A project manager must consider various factors, including different realities, communication spaces, verbal and non-verbal cues, and the intended versus perceived meaning.
Effective communication is crucial for successfully managing a project. The project manager must ensure clear and effective communication with two main groups: stakeholders, and the project team. Each project receives sponsorship from a business segment invested in the outcome, often represented on the project steering committee. This sets the objectives for the project with monitoring of progress over time. The steering committee will include other stakeholders, for example, those who will need to implement the project outcomes and those who will need to supply resources once the project outcomes have been met. All these stakeholders will need regular updates. Structured, concise and regular communication intentionally utilizing various modalities (e.g., email, collaboration tool) is a critical leverage point for the Project Manager.
In projects, the project manager frequently coordinates a large group of individuals working on different aspects, often termed as work streams. Ensuring clarity on project objectives and reporting to the project board or sponsors falls under the responsibility of the project manager. Without established and maintained effective communication, projects face numerous chances of missing deadlines and encountering unexpected issues. Structured, concise, and regular communication intentionally employing multiple modalities is a critical leverage point for the project manager.
Guided by stakeholder analysis, the project manager and the project team can identify the essential type, frequency, or detail of communications. Providing stakeholders with unnecessary or undesired information offers no advantage, and the resources spent on creating and delivering such information become wasteful. A communications management plan can structure and document the communication process, types, and expectations. It provides the following:
The project communications plan may also include information and guidelines for project status meetings, team meetings, e-mail, and internal social media. Setting expectations for communications and meetings early in the project establishes guidelines for the project team and stakeholders. The project manager and the project team work together to identify who needs what information. In other words, project management needs to understand the requirements for successful communication in order to plan how to achieve them.
Stakeholders will need different types of information, depending on their interest in the project and the priority of the project. The project manager must conduct a thorough analysis of identified stakeholders to determine both the required information and its frequency. The project manager and the project team can identify the demand for communications using the following:
Effective project communication involves considering four key aspects: Who needs to be communicated to, what needs to be communicated, when it should be communicated and where it should be communicated. These areas are impacted by specific types of communication obstacles such as:
As part of the communications planning, the project manager should identify all the required and approved methods of communicating. Certain projects may involve sensitive information accessible to select stakeholders, while others may contain information open for exploration by anyone. Regardless the case, the project manager should identify the required and approved communication methods.
The most common type of communication between a sender and a receiver is verbal communication. When verbal communication is involved, the project manager should remember that half of communication is listening. The project manager must confirm that the receiver understands the message being shared. The recipient's understanding can be confirmed through their body language, feedback, and verbal acknowledgment of the shared message. Five common concepts are employed to describe the process of communication. These include:
Finally, the significance of effective communication is frequently underestimated in conversations about project success. But it is the way in which project issues can be addressed, project status can be shared, and collaboration can thrive amongst the team. Without the effective use and understanding of the key types of communication. e.g., verbal, written and nonverbal, project success can be negatively impacted.
It is crucial to engage in proactive and consistently clear communication within the team. Utilizing a concise, detailed, and effective communication plan, along with modalities such as email, Teams, and Slack that align with the team's culture, is essential. In project management, surprises are seldom appreciated. Over-communicating is preferable to under-communicating, ensuring everyone remains on the same page.
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