Communication in project management (Definition and types)
An essential part of a project manager's role is communicating with their team. Regardless of the industry, communication is a vital skill to enable a project to progre ss smoothly. Whether you're managing a team or working as a member of a project team, it's helpful to understand the role of communication in project management. In this article, we define project communication management and its significance and outline th e different types of communication and steps you can follow to achieve effective communication.
What is project communication management?
Project communication management is the process of ensuring that everyone on your team has access to the information for a project and channels to share that information with others who are working on similar or related tasks. A typical priority of a project manager is communicating with the rest of the team to ensure that everyone working on the project is aware of their individual task , their goals and what you expect of them. This helps the team to work together in a way t hat's more efficient and can also lead to a higher quality of work.
Why is communication in project management important?
As project teams are often made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds and skills, it's vital to communicate effectively to ensure each team member is knowledgeable about their duties and on track to deliver the correct outcome. A project manager may spend a lot of time communicating with the team to ensure their project is successful.
While communication is a priority for a project manager, it's also essential that other professionals develop their communication skills and prioritise effective communication when working on a project. This may include asking questions if they're not sure about something or sharing any ideas they have that can help with the project development.
Read more: How to become a project manager
Types of communication
In a professional context, it's common to divide communication into the categories of verbal, nonverbal and written communication. Though each of these forms of communication is essential, many professionals rely more on verbal and written communication. Here are some specific forms of communication employed in project management:
You may decide to hold a meeting with those working on the project on a regular basis or as needed. Meetings can be an effective method of communication, particularly when you have a project update to share that may warrant a more nuanced explanation, or when you anticipate that your team may have questions about the project. It's typically more efficient to answer as many questions as possible in a meeting as members of the team may have the same questions and it can save you having to repeat yourself.
Starting a project with a meeting can be very useful to gain a clear idea of everyone involved and set a precedent for communication. You may also decide to hold meetings both in person and over a video call to ensure that all the team can be present and that you're being inclusive.
Email is a standard form of communication that you can use for both formal and informal communication. When you're managing a project, aim to check your email regularly to ensure you're up to date with what's going on and reading all project-related emails that you may receive from your team. You may also decide to use a project email list to let your team know details of upcoming meetings and deadlines, then send individual emails to schedule private meetings.
Related: How to write a gentle reminder email
Phone calls are an excellent form of communication for times when a fast response is necessary or if you're delivering an urgent message. Phone calls can also feel more personal than written communication. If you have a specific outcome in mind for a call, it may help to message the recipient beforehand to ensure they have adequate time to speak. This can also give them some time to prepare for the subject you wish to discuss.
A discussion board or group chat can be a helpful tool, especially in the early stages of a project. Discussion boards enable team members to ask general project questions and communicate quickly with team members. A discussion board can also serve as a method of team bonding as well as a source of information. It can help to foster team collaboration skills which may increase the quality of their work.
Surveys can be a useful way of learning the general consensus on a particular matter. You may decide to send a survey to your team members if you would like them to vote on a particular issue or if you're looking to obtain feedback. Surveys can be an excellent way to gain feedback as they can be anonymous, meaning your team members can provide honest feedback without worrying about your response.
Presentations are also a useful type of verbal communication that you can use to inform your team on a new topic or if you're sharing news about the project. You may decide to present on subjects such as project milestones or give a presentation that teaches your team how to perform certain tasks. You can choose to give a presentation in person or via a video meeting. Another option is to create a slide show presentation that you can send to your team to view in their own time.
A memo is a short, informative message that you can use to give updates on issues related to the project. Project managers typically use memos to give details of new policies or procedures that relate to project tasks. When writing memos, it helps to keep your message brief. You may opt to email a memo to your team or print it off and post it in a public area of the workplace.
A project plan is a document that maps a projects timeline and associated tasks. Managers typically create a project plan at the start of a project and update it often throughout the project. A project plan typically includes things such as project objectives, contact details for team members and any other essential information.
How to effectively communicate in project management
To manage your project efficiently, it helps to understand how to communicate with your team members effectively. Here are some steps you can follow for more effective communication:
1. Plan for communication
It can help to consider communication in the initial planning phase of your project. When putting together a project plan, be sure to map out each stage of the project and gather the team members accordingly. Planning for this in advance of the project starting can make communicating with your team later much more straightforward.
2. Determine a preferred method of communication
Once you have a project plan and a list of team members, you can then determine a preferred method of communication for the duration of the project. While it's helpful to have more than a single method of communication during the project, selecting a primary form of communication for you and your team to use helps with project organisation. You may decide, for instance, to form a group chat at the start of the project and let your team know the purpose of the chat.
3. Share project goals
It's wise to communicate the project goals to your team on a regular basis. This can help to ensure that each team member has a clear idea of the overall objective of their work. You can also allow your team to share their ideas on how to achieve project goals and objectives. This may also help the project to run more smoothly or enable you to meet these objectives in a way that is more efficient.
4. Listen to your team
Listening is a vital communication skill. It's important that you listen to your team members and make a point of asking them for their input, thoughts and ideas on certain subjects. This also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to your team that you value their point of view and respect them. This can strengthen your skills as a leader and accomplish project goals.
5. Keep everyone up to date
As the project develops, it's vital that you update your team on any changes. This includes updates on project progress, any alterations to the project or policies. Keeping your team up to date ensures that everyone is aware of the current project status. As you're involving everyone, it can also help to promote a sense of inclusion and accountability.
6. Monitor employee performance
Monitoring your team member's work performance can enable you to notice if someone needs additional help to complete a task. Having an understanding of how each member of the team is performing can help to inform which form of communication is most suited to your project. You can track the performance of your team by recording when they submit key deliverables for the project or creating charts that measure their individual productivity.
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