Why is Communicating Effectively Important? You spend countless hours creating a Communications Plan for your stakeholders. You identify and prioritize them and create an extensive strategy regarding what, when, and how often you’ll communicate with them. But what about your project team members? Do you know what Josh is working on, where Chrissy sees risk, and the fact Shannon hasn’t been to work for a few days? The rigor you apply to project stakeholders should also be extended to the team. In fact, I’ve found it is often more important to be thorough and strategic in communications planning and execution with team members than stakeholders outside the team. Remember, without effective project team communication, what are you going to communicate with the other stakeholders? Incorrect, incomplete, and possibly inappropriate messages?
As a project manager you know your primary responsibility and skill is communication. And you know a lot of your communication is done through team meetings. But, how can you be sure your team meetings are as effective as possible? Research shows most project managers believe their meetings are highly effective, yet most team participants rate meetings as less than effective. Why the difference of opinion? One thought is whoever is doing the most talking believes (disproportionately) they are being effective; the opposite is true. If you’re going over the project plan and asking for status updates, is this the best use of your team’s valuable time? If you think your meetings are productive you probably aren’t soliciting feedback nor looking for opportunities to improve. I’ve utilized a 4-part process to continually improve my meetings; Assess, Prepare, Facilitate and Reassess.
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While all facets of project management and leadership are important, the most important skill a project manager or leader can possess is communication. It is said a project manager spends 90% of their time communicating. I have seen the single greatest factor impacting project success is communication. In fact, project communication is so vital, it really encompasses two entire knowledge areas in project management; “Project Communications Management” and “Project Stakeholder Management.” The two go hand-in-hand. You must communicate effectively to drive stakeholder engagement, which is critical to overall project success and adoption.
As a project manager, if you meet your scope, schedule and cost baselines, was your project successful? If it takes a prolonged time period to achieve the business outcomes planned, is that your responsibility? Does your involvement end when the project is finalized, or do you have some responsibility to ensure project adoption? If you believe you’re responsible for meeting project baselines and ensuring project adoption you will need to look beyond project management. Project adoption is about change management, so you must integrate change management into your project activities to ensure success.