Discover techniques for communicating effectively with other people involved with a project.
- As a project manager, you communicate with people at all levels of organizations, from the customer and management team to the people who do project work. Communication isn't just telling someone something, it's about getting a message across so the other person understands it and often does something with it. Good communication skills help you and your team get more and better work done.
First, it's up to you to get your point across. Start by telling your audience why your message is important. That gets their attention so they hear your message. Second, get to the point. That way you get through even if your audience has a short attention span or your time is limited to a three-floor elevator ride. Third, tailor your message to your audience.
In other words, focus on what's relevant to your audience and use terms they understand. I managed a project in which the client wanted a lot and wanted it quickly. The team was overworked and exhausted. At meetings, management focused on projected sales and revenue from the project. Team members just slumped in their chairs because all they heard was we want you to do even more work.
When I talk to them, I focused on how the project would benefit the team. The team perked up to this tailored message and we made the project a success. Fourth, be positive and proactive. If you have to discuss a problem, state the problem and then your plan to handle it. Here are some other tips for improving communication.
Listening is as important as talking. When you're the audience, pay full attention to the person talking to you. No cellphones. No text messages. No emails. I know it's tough, but it's worth practicing. You'll get a lot more done. Watch for unspoken communication. In person, watch body language and facial expressions.
On the phone, listen for intonations in someone's voice. Choose face-to-face meetings for difficult, delicate, or crucial communication so you and your audience can receive spoken and unspoken messages. Keep an open mind. Conversation or meetings are a waste if you aren't going to listen to what other people say.
To improve understanding, paraphrase what you've heard, or ask the other person to do that. By putting the information in your own words, you demonstrate that you do understand and you give the other person a chance to correct you if you misunderstood. Finally, use email effectively. It's fast and easy, but it presents challenges, too.
Like other communication, take time to write a clear and effective message. It saves time and reduces back and forth email volleys. Use informative subject lines. If you're asking for action and you have a deadline, include those in the subject. Start with the point. Start with what you want and what's important, and then back fill with the detail.
A good email is like a newspaper article, which presents key information in the initial paragraphs. Proofread your messages. Spelling or editing mistakes and grammatical errors can radically change the meaning of a message. Confirm that your emails arrive. If you don't get a response, follow up with another email, call, or visit.
Be careful with humor because it doesn't work well in email. Use humor only with people you know well and let people know you're doing it. Good communication is something you have to work at constantly, but by doing so you and your team will work more effectively.
Bonnie Biafore has always been fascinated by how things work and how to make things work better. In this course, she explains the fundamentals of project management, from defining the problem, establishing project goals and objectives, and building a project plan to managing team resources, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. Along the way, she provides tips for reporting on project performance, keeping a project on track, and gaining customer acceptance.
- Defining the components of a project
- What it takes to be a project manager
- Using project management software like Microsoft Project
- Managing project scope, budget, and schedule
- Managing project resources, including people
- Managing project risk
- Initiating a project
- Identifying and managing stakeholders
- Identifying requirements and deliverables
- Developing a project plan
- Building a project schedule
- Assigning resources to tasks
- Understanding the critical path
- Running the project
- Managing teams
- Monitoring performance
- Closing a project