A great deal of a project manager’s time is spent communicating with management, the team, the customer, and other stakeholders. It is no surprise that project managers often identify communication-related issues as the #1 problem they experience most frequently on projects. According to the Project Management Institute, 40 percent of all project failures can be directly attributed to lack of effective communication.
Poor communication examples during projects are endless, yet many people allocate time developing technical project management skills while ignoring softer skills like communication and active listening. Making even a small changes in your project communication habits can greatly impact your project’s success. Ask yourself: “Is there a benefit to not communicating effectively?”
5 Reasons for Effective Project Communication
Here are additional reasons to care about project communication:
1. Engaged Stakeholders
As a project manager, you need to use communication skills in every aspect of your job, from refereeing conflicts between team members to emailing project status updates to stakeholders. To do this, you need to enhance your communication skills. If you don’t, your stakeholders could experience poor team relationships, receive too little relevant information about the project, and could become disengaged from it. The easiest way to maintain engagement with your stakeholders is to take the time to plan how you will communicate with them early in the project and follow through with it.
2. Risk Mitigation
One of the biggest benefits to investing in your project communication skills is the ease in which you will be able to collect information on possible risks to your project. All of the methods we suggest identifying risks involve high-quality communication. Being able to facilitate a brainstorming meeting is an art and a science. Knowing exactly how long to use silence before someone is so uncomfortable, they volunteer a suggestion is a golden moment in effective listening. Maintaining energy and enthusiasm with your project team while identifying risk categories and completing an affinity diagram to organize ideas. It is a skill that isn’t going to come naturally to everyone, but when practiced it becomes second nature. Given the alternative of missing a potential risk that could be costly, it seems obvious that for this reason alone you should care about increasing your communications competence.
3. Organizational Benefits
Simple changes can make a big difference in improving project communications. Imagine a project where you’ve drafted a comprehensive communications management plan and followed it. Where you’ve continuously updated your stakeholder register, and because of it, stayed on top of requirement changes. Where barriers to communication were reduced to the point where no time was lost because everyone was aware of the project’s progress. This would get noticed. A project brought in on time, within budget, and meeting the needs of the organization will catch the executive team’s eye.
It doesn’t have to be difficult. Ultimately the investment in effective communications will result in benefits to the entire organization. Conflicts will be reduced; employee satisfaction will increase resulting in reduced turnover and fewer requirements will be missed.
4. Knowledge Sharing
Knowledge Sharing is a key component of agile methods; this is an important concept to consider when managing project communications. Information (i.e., knowledge) is a basic component of any project, so it must be distributed and shared. Properly sharing knowledge allows for more information to be provided until team members have enough knowledge to complete their work. A project management communication plan is a tool to determine how information is shared and delivered to everyone.
Agile projects embrace knowledge sharing using tools such as daily stand-ups, Kanban boards, and wireframes all support knowledge sharing by ensuring the project information is available.
Enhanced communication skills are transferable to any project in any industry. Your ability to effectively listen, to ask clarifying questions, and to craft professional formal and informal correspondence have practical applications.
Project management is about coordinating efforts, gathering information, and sharing knowledge to achieve the project goals. To increase your communication skills, consider RMC’s updated Project Communication and Stakeholder Engagement eLearning course.