Imagine you are playing for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho has just selected you for your debut. It's a big game in front of nearly 80,000 people at Old Trafford. Only trouble is, he hasn't told you where you are playing, what he wants you to do or what he expects from the team.
Without communication, you'd be completely lost and so would the rest of your team...
As a team, you can't really function without clear instructions from the person in charge. This is true no matter what team you are a part of. Whether that be Manchester United in the Premier League, the Dog and Duck in East London Sunday Division Six, the grocery aisle at your local supermarket or the IT team at a small start-up.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Project management communication is the most vital part of being a project manager. The Project Management Institute suggest that a project management should spend 90% of their time communicating and that one fifth of projects often fail solely due to ineffective communication.
If you are an effective communicator and a people person, then you are one step ahead of the game in project management. You have to know how to communicate with each member of your team. Project management involves getting the best out of an often diverse group of people, from Shy Sally who just needs a nudge in the right direction every now and again to Outgoing Oliver who is the life and soul of the party but when kept on target, will always deliver results.
A big part of getting the team to listen to your message is earning their trust. If members of the team respect and believe in what you are saying, they are more likely to want to make the project work for you. The best way to earn that is through building personal relationships with your team, and that means getting personal.
Sharing is caring
Tell jokes. Make the task fun. Share personal stories of that time you were in Australia and drunkenly fell off the back of a boat. If your team sees you as one of them and you have strong relationships with them, then communication when you need to ask for certain things or hold a difficult conversation becomes a lot easier.
Questions form an important part of the communication process. You need to be inquisitive in order to understand your team and their working style. Find out what they are doing and how they are doing it. Most people fall into four categories of working style:
- Data- oriented
It's crucial to understand how your team works and who falls into which category. Who knows, they might even have an idea or way of working that could improve the effectiveness and deliverability of the project for the whole team. You'll never know unless you ask.
keep up to date
One of the most popular ways to communicate is via a status meeting. Status meetings involve getting the whole team together at regular intervals – daily, weekly or even monthly – and going over the progress made on the project. The project manager leads the meeting, keeping everyone updated on how things are going but it is important that the team communicates as well. That way, everyone feels invested in what is going on and everyone knows what everyone else is up to.
See also: The art of people management
Communication is key
We all have different ways of processing information and that is another thing to take on board. For every person who reacts well to being told how the project is going and what needs to be done, there is somebody else who gains more from a graph or flow chart. As much as verbal communication is important in project management, a picture can say a thousand words and getting the message across in a variety of ways including in a hard format and always having something there to be referred back to is an ever more popular means of leading a team.
It isn't just with your team you'll need to communicate. While leading them is the main task of the job, a project manager also has to report back to those above them, the stakeholders and board who have invested in the project. They'll want clear and concise updates on how things are going to measure the progress against the original business case and ensure that what they want is being delivered how they want it.
Being able to communicate and getting on with people are the two most important skills when it comes to project management, and the best thing is that with a little bit of project management training, virtually anybody with a working mouth and a bit of personality can do it. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch today.