That Communication Stuff They Taught You? Yeah, Not So Much...

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

There are a couple of things that stick in my mind from when I first became a project manager. They’re comments that were made to me that are variations on things that have been said to PMs the world over for as long as project management has existed.

Similar things are being taught to new PMs even as you sit here and read this (and reflect on what has been said to you). The first thing said to me was that if it felt like I was over-communicating with the team, then I was probably getting close to communicating enough. The second was that 90% of a PM’s time should be spent on communication, with the rest of the work taking the other 90% of the time.

Illogical math aside, you get the point—communication is important, and as a project manager you’re going to be doing a lot of it. Well, a lot of time has passed since I first became a project manager, and I hope in that time I’ve learned a thing or two. One of the things I’ve learned is that the focus many project managers have on communication is misplaced. Communication is critically important, but the focus shouldn’t be on the amount of it—it should be on the quality of it. In fact, I believe many project managers over-communicate, and I think their teams agree with that sentiment.

The purpose of communication
To explain what I mean, we need to consider why communication …

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