Communication is an essential requirement in order to achieve team success in any endeavor. This is especially true in the field of Project Management. Communication sounds simple in premise, but presents numerous challenges in practice. Below are three considerations when making decisions regarding communication with stakeholders.
All communication should serve a specific purpose. Are you seeking to inform the recipients or to illicit feedback? Are you attempting to manage tasks or manage people? The purpose of communication bares heavily on the methods, tone, and language to be used. A project manager in a position of authority over an employee may be able to assign tasks and provide feedback on deliverables directly, whereas in other situations it may be necessary to communicate through appropriate channels to have tasks completed. The purpose of the communication will effect both the delivery and the choice of delivery vehicle.
The interest level of each project stakeholder may vary drastically from person to person. Be careful not to confuse level of interest with amplitude of effect. A stakeholder may be in a position to experience enormous change based on a specific project and still show little interest in the daily operations. As a general rule, stakeholder interest should have some bearing on frequency of communication from the project manager as well as communication method. A balance must be reached between spending too much time communicating with high-interest parties will small stake in the project and communicating too little with low-interest parties with high stakes in the project. A good rule of thumb is to err on the side of too-frequent communication initially and then seek feedback from stakeholders regarding frequency of communication.
Each stakeholder on a project will have a unique personality that must be considered. While not every individual will require communicative differentiation, specific individuals may require different approaches – depending on the purpose of communication. Any efforts to persuade or resolve conflict are especially susceptible to failings in communications due to personality. A project manager may discover that the words that are being read or heard are being perceived very differently than the words that are being written or spoken.
An excellent tip is to include results of communication methods with various personality types in the Lessons Learned documents. Over time, a project manager may develop a decent tool kit of go-to communication techniques when working with specific personality types.
While communication is simple – good communication is not. Always be open to feedback and remember that your opinion about how you communicate is not as important as the opinion of those with who you are communicating.