Project Management

What Exactly Is Effective Communication? (Part 2)

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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I looked at the factors that make communication from project managers effective. But that’s only half the story. Project managers are involved in far more exchanges where they are receiving information than where they are delivering it, and it is essential that those interactions are as effective as possible at all times.

That can be hard for experienced project managers; for new PMs, it’s a significant challenge that needs solving.

Communications variety
One of the biggest reasons why incoming communications can be a challenge is that they are so varied. Project managers are communicating with team members and a varied set of stakeholders, all of whom have different perspectives and requirements.

In addition, PMs are the recipients of information distribution-type communications—updates on progress, responses to questions, and so on. But they are also the recipients of action-oriented communications— things that require the PM to do something. Examples of that may be requests for a change, communications around a potential problem that needs solving, etc.

This variety makes communications unpredictable, and that in turn can become a barrier to effectiveness. Project managers need to continuously ask themselves:

  • Do I know what’s expected of me?
  • Do I have enough information to move forward?

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