The 5 practical techniques for project managers to communicate effectively include planning, providing clarity in terms of communication methods, clarifying roles, establishing routes for feedback, and having protocols for contingencies. Having these in place ensures things get done on time and without conflict.
We’ll first discuss the importance of communication in project management and the 5 Cs of effective communication. Then we will move on to the practical techniques for project managers to communicate effectively, which is the main section of this article. Lastly, we will cover a few related topics like what a good communication style for project managers is, how they manage communication, and some of the best tools for project management.
The importance of communication in project management
- Projects progress without issues in a timely manner
- Team members have role clarity which allows them to effectively engage in their roles and be accountable
- Builds team rapport which facilitates performance
- Builds trust with other stakeholders like customers
- As a project leader, it facilitates networking which can contribute to success
What are the 5 C’s of communication in project management?
For communication in project management to be effective, it must follow the 5 C’s of communication, including correctness, completeness, clarity, conciseness, and cohesiveness.
The information should be correct without any information that can potentially mislead. Any exaggerations or minimizations should be avoided to provide an accurate image.
The information should be as complete as possible. The team members should ideally be aware of how their work is going to contribute to the final goal, so they can act accordingly.
Information should be as simple and straightforward as possible for clarity. There should be no uncertainty.
The details should be to the point. Excessive information is difficult to follow and takes away attention from what’s important. Try to convey things in fewer words without unnecessary detail.
There should be consistency in how things are performed in the team. Someone’s task shouldn’t conflict or interfere with someone else’s. There should be a common understanding of how things are to be done within the team.
Related: effective communication with clients
What are the practical techniques?
This includes planning, providing clarity in terms of communication methods, clarifying roles, establishing routes for feedback, and having protocols for contingencies.
1. Plan the project beforehand, along with everyone’s roles mentioned in each of its stages
Create a structure of how you see the project progressing, along with who contributes to which part ensures things run smoothly. This is the basic framework of how the project is going to go and details can be added as you progress and things become clearer. Explain this with simple language and actively listen to any suggestions before proceeding with it.
For example, persons A and B come up with the finance estimates, and person C comes up with the logistics. When the data is available, persons D and E work together to create a product design, while keeping A, B, and C in the loop of any changes.
2. Provide clarity of modes of communication
This would include where they are primarily expected to communicate, and what other means they can use if needed. For example, some matters require the whole team to be in the know, so a general chat is more appropriate. On the other hand, some updates that only need a segment of the team to know can be updated to only those people.
There should also be clarity on how to approach the hierarchy within the organization. Some organizations do not follow a hierarchical structure and are less concerned with responsibilities being limited to a particular designation. In those cases, this may not apply. However, for the typical organization that follows the structure, members of the project should know who first to approach before approaching higher authority. They should be free to go further when the lower levels do not work out.
3. Clarify and keep updating roles when needed
Make sure to provide complete clarity on what is expected of everyone. Avoid vague terms such as “as soon as you can”. Instead, set specific deadlines if the project allows it. Whenever there’s an addition of responsibilities or more things to do, make sure to update the relevant people on what changes they must undergo.
4. Establish routes for feedback
Even if everything is put in place the best you could do, things can still go wrong. Find ways people can freely provide feedback and suggestions, even if this means an anonymous feedback form. Even in the worst case where most feedback is unhelpful or not feasible, there might be some that would help you improve how the project is being carried out. In the end, everyone in a project is working towards the same goal even if they have different motivations, so it helps to take their opinions into account.
One way this could be done is by making a simple Google form with an open-ended question for feedback/suggestions that do not require inputting any email/identifying information, then making this accessible in the team chat. Making sure to be responsive can encourage overall growth.
5. Contingency management
Be prepared to handle any difficult situation that pops up as a team. If there is a conflict, you should try not to react aggressively, and try to de-escalate the situation so things can go back on track. Here is an article on strategies to resolve conflict.
It is important for people’s opinions to be heard but this is not always possible so have established protocols in place for decision-making and what is done when things go wrong.
Also check out this video to know about strategic communication, which is a great tool for project managers as well:
What is a good communication style for Project Managers?
A good communication style is one that maintains the 5 C’s that we covered earlier and also engages in assertive communication and active listening.
Assertive communication involves expressing yourself appropriately while also being considerate of others’ needs as well. E.g., if you’d like to have people work on a project that has a very short deadline, “I understand that we’re short on time and it’s difficult for everyone to put this together so quickly so I appreciate you all putting in all this effort. I’m just a call away if you need any help. Let’s get this project done!”
Active listening involves listening and trying to truly understand what the person is saying, and then conveying this understanding back to the person. E.g., “What I understand is that you’re having a lot of difficulty managing the current task force and are unsure what steps you could take. I understand your frustration, and would be happy to figure out with you what we can do to improve this situation.”
How do project managers manage communication?
They can do this in various ways, including:
- Meetings (in-person or online, depending on requirement)
- Follow-ups and Reminders (email, text message, or phone call)
- Setting up task trackers
- Creating polls for opinions
- Feedback/Suggestion forms
- Brainstorming or discussion chats
- Formal Presentations
- Project documents and minutes of the meet
Best project management communication tools
A lot of tools are available these days to facilitate effective communication for team members.
- Slack: Offers a very organized way for teams to communicate. Has a discord-like interface that allows you to create smaller threads for particular tasks instead of having to create more and more groups like in a WhatsApp chat.
- Trello: It provides an intuitive visual interface that allows excellent tracking for project-related tasks.
- Asana: Allows efficient task management and is similar to Trello, it is good for tracking project progress.
- Monday.com: Project management tool as well, with a high degree of customization features available.
- ClickUp: This project management tool includes many tools that can be integrated for organizing and managing tasks.
All of them have the same purpose of allowing efficient communication within teams so choosing one is just based on your preference and needs in terms of specific features a platform offers.
The article covers an overview of communication in project management and discusses various techniques to ensure project managers can communicate effectively to get their desired results. A few other topics related to communication for project managers have also been covered. We hope this has given you some ideas on how you can ensure better communication in your project and how important it is to do so.
Communication as a project manager also involves public speaking. This is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Check out public speaking coaching to know more.