WORKPLACE / OCT. 17, 2016
version 4, draft 4

Effective Communication Is Key to Project Management Success

According to a white paper published by the Project Management Institute, projects led by effective communicators achieve 80 per cent of their original goals while those led by minimally effective communicators only achieve 52 per cent of their initial targets. In addition, 96 per cent of executives mentioned that ineffective communication is a primary cause of workplace failures. This emphasises the importance of why project managers have to be exceptionally good communicators.

Pillars of Effective Communication

A recent Forbes report says project managers must be skilled in both verbal and non-verbal communication. More specifically, they should be able to communicate effectively through telephone calls, instant messages, project collaboration tools such as Slack, web chat, email, video conferencing, as well as face-to-face. This is important for several reasons because over 55 per cent of message interpretation is based on body language and facial expressions, according to Dr. John Lund, an interpersonal communication expert and researcher. Other aspects that influence communication include voice tone (37 per cent) and words used (8 per cent). At the same time, a project manager must maintain the right internal and external communication balance, especially in cases where the project owner is a client. Project managers should also avoid on-the-fly communication unless it is necessary because it breeds uncertainty among project members. Moreover, it could cause project members to shift their focus from core tasks to functions that could be handled more efficiently by non-project staff.

Communication Plan

To avoid the problems discussed above, project management should be based on a pre-planned communication strategy. This strategy should incorporate a feedback loop as well as clearly define the right communication channels, responsibilities, roles and hierarchy. A properly structured communication framework will prevent project bottlenecks caused by communication incoherence.

To learn more about how communication plays a key role in project management outcomes, check out this infographic created by Brandeis University’s Online Masters in Project Management program.

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