The importance of Communication in Project Management

The importance of Communication in Project Management

Communication is the foundation of project management and the lifeblood of any project.

In recent years the need for the rapid development of new program innovations has become a major driving force in organisations. With technological changes and increased competition, organisations are turning more to project management and relying more on project teams to develop and implement new products and programs.

The single most important factor affecting the success or failure of these projects is the communication ability of the project manager.

Highly effective communicators are much more likely to deliver projects on time and within budget. 

The Phoenicians developed the alphabet in 3500 BC.

The term communication originates from the Latin word communicare, which means ‘to make common’. The goal when communicating is for a common understanding to be created. 

Regardless of our preferred personality style—or whether we consider ourselves an introvert or extrovert—dealing with other people is a fact of life. Almost any situation you can think of requires us to come in contact and interact with others. The ability to communicate and relate to clients, co-workers, employees, or a boss can determine our career path, potential and define our successes.

Information Communication
As we continue to see constant, dramatic changes in technology, the way information and expertise are shared is constantly changing. Instant media creates the necessary conditions for the rapid sharing of knowledge and information between individuals and teams from one side of the world to the other.

While in the past, knowledge itself was considered to be synonymous with power, in the 21st century it is rather the quick and efficient communication of knowledge and information that provides parties with an edge in transactions. Due to this, the communication of information has acquired the status of a power tool: the sooner information is available, the quicker decisions can be made. Due to this increased pace and high volume of data sharing, however, the possibilities for miscommunication are never too far away.

Complexities of Communication
Insensitivity, lack of awareness, the importance of inclusivity and equality, and the issues around sharing personal information and privacy are just a few examples of the complexities surrounding communication in today’s world. With the quicker movement of attention – comes increased levels of potential distraction.  

Preventing miscommunication and missteps.
In project management, there are tools and techniques that can assist with limiting instances of miscommunication.

Closed-loop communication is a communication strategy involving three steps: (1) The sender transmits a message (2) the receiver accepts the message and acknowledges its receipt and (3) the sender verifies that the message has been received and interpreted correctly to “close the loop.” Implementing this very simple cycle of communication does not require more time, and in fact, it is likely to save time.

As communication is the transmission of meaning from one person verbally or non-verbally, Body-language can impact a meeting positively or negatively.  It is the use of physical behaviour, expressions, and mannerisms that are often done instinctively rather than consciously. Whether we are aware of it or not, when we interact with others, we are continuously giving and receiving wordless signals.  The project manager’s body language can put people at ease, build trust, and draw others nearer, or unintentionally offend, confuse, and undermine what’s trying to be conveyed. It is well worth bringing these largely unconscious behaviours into our conscious awareness.

Straight Talk: The Power of Connection on Communication
While communicating/miscommunicating may be complex, according to Susan Scott in her Wallstreet Journal bestselling book Fierce Conversations(2); one thing is clear: The most valuable currency in business is not money. Nor is it intelligence, attractiveness, fluency in business jargon, or the ability to write code. Our most valuable currency is the human relationship and therefore, it is critically important for project managers to possess the ability to communicate in a way that builds them. To build invaluable Emotional Capital.

In 2002 the Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to Daniel Kahneman, a psychology professor at Princeton. Why would the global economics community award the Nobel Prize to a psychologist?

Because Kahneman’s studies proved beyond any doubt that we behave emotionally first and rationally second. No matter how logical we claim to be, we are humans first and our emotions are the most powerful factor in how we respond and interact with others. If this proven fact is not considered carefully by Project Managers when communicating a message to the project team – the damage can be devastating.  

If we want to communicate with others, we must be sure we are connecting with others.

If we are connected, communication is easier and much more effective. If we are disconnected, it doesn’t matter what the project manager is communicating – because the message simply isn’t getting through.

To find out more about our Project Management portfolio of services, contact the team today.

Gary Colbert - Client Site Resource Manager

Gary Colbert - Client Site Resource Manager

Gary Colbert is a Client Site Resource Manager and has over 15 years’ experience working with high performing individuals and groups as an executive and performance coach. He holds an MSc in Personal & Management Coaching.

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