Communication is a critical skill to develop in the workforce. Any successful project manager will tell you that communicating effectively and efficiently is the key to minimizing mistakes and preventing missed deadlines or unmet expectations. Learning the best practices of this essential soft skill is the best way to relay ideas, goals and milestones and build trust.
But it can be tricky. Communication isn’t just about speaking directly to an individual or group; it can look like every written, verbal and nonverbal touchpoint. And there is a lot to consider for “effective” and “efficient” communication within a project. So how do you ensure that everyone remains on the same page throughout the duration of your project for the best results?
The Importance of Communicating Effectively in Project Management
As a project manager, your role is to gather the necessary information to complete the project and promptly distribute it to your team. It is equally vital that you understand stakeholders’ expectations for your team and communicate them in a way your team will comprehend. Without proper communication skills, there may be work duplication or workflow gaps. Or worse, a lack of communication could lead to projects veering too far outside the intended result’s scope, leading to failure or stopping.
Your team comprises diverse backgrounds, skills, and styles of working, and with effective communication, you can combine all of them and work through tasks and deadlines.
Part of your role as a project manager is to meet people where they are. The best communicators can address different learning styles and how others process information. So understanding your team members’ preferences and communication styles will aid in communicating effectively.
4 Communication Types You’ll Encounter as a Project Manager
There are four different communication styles, each equally important to understand for successful project management. It’s important to note that none of us use one type of communication all the time. Different situations call for different styles of communication.
Passive communicators don’t want to rock the boat, so they often beat around the bush or keep to themselves to avoid issues. They often feel their opinion isn’t important compared to others.
If a team member repeatedly shows signs of passive communication, you can remind them that their views and voice matter. Then create a safe environment for them to speak up!
Aggressive communicators are people who are dominant in their communication. They care more about their opinion and needs than others. People who are aggressive communicators may create an environment where passive communicators may feel inferior more often than not.
As a manager, you’ll be able to identify these communicators very easily. And it’s up to you to keep the situation under control and create a space where others can speak up.
Passive Aggressive Communication
Passive-aggressive communicators show a disconnect between what they say and what they mean. This communication style is typically tit-for-tat and shows underlying aggression toward the other person.
Someone with a passive communication style may hit this point if they’re frustrated and haven’t developed the tools to manage this frustration constructively.
Assertive communicators directly address their opinions and needs in a respectful manner. This communication style is the most effective way to communicate as a leader — it’s also the hardest for many.
Assertive communication is the most direct way to discuss expectations and goals effectively and ensure the project doesn’t veer too far away from the outcomes you hope to achieve. Creating a safe and open environment for your team members to communicate feedback, questions and any obstacles that may arise is essential for project success. Make sure your team sees how receptive you’ll be to their feedback.
Communication Enables Collaboration
As a project manager, a large part of your role is to disseminate information between team members and stakeholders, who play a vital role in the project’s success. In this role, you will be in charge of stakeholder management, which is about keeping an eye on all impacted by the project, the service, or the work you are focused on. And because they’re so crucial for the project’s success, you must ensure everyone stays aligned.
Communication is the glue that holds all collaborative efforts together within a project. The most successful project managers don’t just delegate tasks but encourage strong collaboration. Open communication fosters an environment that increases productivity, allows for new approaches and ideas, empowers team members to express their opinions, and encourages dialogue surrounding the project.
The most effective way to create a collaborative environment is through relationship-building exercises, weekly or daily check-ins, supporting team members by celebrating their achievements and offering collaborative solutions for obstacles or failures.
4 Tips To Learn How To Communicate as a Team Leader
Because project managers are in charge of multiple moving parts, communication must be adequate, concise, and open. If you need help communicating with your team and stakeholders, try the following tips to strengthen your areas of improvement.
Understand the Who’s and How’s of Communication
Project managers are gatekeepers of information. Therefore, it’s essential to understand who needs to know what and what information can be left out. For example, some stakeholders may want to know updates on project deadlines, while others may want to see the numbers.
Keeping everyone informed is easier when you can prioritize different messages for different crowds instead of sharing everything with everyone. Additionally, you want to ensure that you don’t confuse team members with unnecessary information.
On another note, disseminating information across teams and departments may call for different methods of communication. Determine which methods or channels of communication will be most effective for each and employ them; what works for some may not work for others.
When speaking with those involved in the project, clarify your point. Are you asking for input? Are you expressing instructions or deadlines? Each touchpoint requires a clear goal or next step so that the end user knows what you expect from the exchange.
Keeping an eye on your team’s progress can help you see any gaps in performance, determine whether anyone needs extra help, and minimize surprises in the form of missed deadlines or objectives.
In addition, communicating along the way will indicate to team members if they are succeeding or missing the mark. Finally, if employees need to catch up, consider if your communication could be the source. For example, they may need help understanding your expectations or their assigned parts of the project.
Establish A Communication Channel
Most teams use a combination of emails and apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate with their project manager. Whatever mode of communication is most effective for your project, utilize it while expressing to your team members what you expect them to communicate within those channels.
Similarly, you’ll want to set some ground rules like response times or the appropriate channels depending on what’s being communicated.
Project Managers Are the Communication Facilitators From Start To Finish
Effective communication is the most vital soft skill you can learn as a manager of any kind. By learning practical communication skills and keeping an open mind to the different avenues of communication, you will set yourself up for success.
If you are still struggling to create an effective communication plan for yourself and your team, book a consultation now, and we’ll devise a strategy together.