When I was at the beginning of my career, I use to see senior leads and managers walking into the office while on calls. All day long they were busy and occupied either in conferences & meetings, generating reports, sending emails, doing one on one with team members etc. One question that used to strike me was, when they are actually working. I just see them communicating in all these different forms.
Later in my career and once I did PMP, I realized that what I saw them doing is what they are supposed to do. They have teams to actually deliver and hence their work is not to deliver but to get the work done and get the team to deliver. And for that, communications is one of the most important focus areas, a Project Manager (PM) should be putting his effort in.
As per project management standards, about 90% of the work of a PM is communications.
It can be formal or informal, verbal or written, interactive push or pull.
Communications is not about PM doing it with others, but also others communicating effectively amongst each other. If Team Leads are not able to effectively communicate with team members or vendors or other departments or any other stakeholders, eventually the project will get impacted which eventually will impact the performance of the PM.
Also, as an effective PM, one needs to ensure that the communication spoilers (also called Noise) are in control. Based on the environment, work culture, geography, and industry, noise can vary. Few of them are body language, culture, etiquettes, ineffective or missing feedback and acknowledgment, pitch, and tone of voice, dual meaning words, wrong communication styles etc. etc. At times to ensure effective communications, PM also might have to restrict certain communications and make it go through proper channels.
In the communication model, PM needs to ensure all that is encoded by the message sender gets decoded by the receiver in the form expected without getting impacted by noise and effective acknowledgment and/or feedback is given back the same way by the receiver to the sender.
To ensure all these to be done effectively and give desired results, a PM should ensure all communications related requirements are gathered upfront when the project is in the initial phases and when requirement gathering is done. This also needs to be part of project scope.
Answers to several questions are very important. Few examples are:
Who, How frequently, In which format, When, For which activities and tasks etc.
‘Effective Manager or Leader has to be an effective Communicator.’
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