Every successful project manager knows the power of communication in leading a successful team. Project managers spend about 90% of their time communicating, meaning the bulk of a project manager’s work involves communication in some form or another. Communication is the exchange of information, both intended and involuntary. A message delivered through speech or writing serves a clear purpose, whereas involuntary communication might be transmitted through body language or tone. This means communication occurs whether we are aware of it or not.
Strong communicators make for excellent project managers. If your communication skills are not quite at the level you would like them to be at, or if it is your first time leading a project and you are unsure of where to start, don’t worry: communication can be learned and improved. Communication happens at work every day, presenting many opportunities for development and practice. Let’s cover some elementary tools first, then move on to strategies that go further in-depth by dealing with common situations.
The Five C’s of Communication
These C’s might seem trite, but they are a useful starting point to outline the basics of communication:
Clarity is not only conveyed in the contents of a message but also in the medium. Since virtual communication has become the new status quo, be mindful of the messages you send and consider how they might be interpreted.
Be consistent by showing steady conformity to your character and profession. This also ties into being reliable and being as transparent as possible to instill trust in your teammates.
This one seems obvious, but many project managers forget that being considerate and having good manners is the easiest way to earn the respect of your teammates. You do not want your teammates talking poorly about you behind your back and tarnishing your reputation as a project manager.
Exude confidence so that your teammates trust in you and want to follow your lead. Even if sometimes you may be unfamiliar with a task, don’t let your confidence waver by faking it until you make it.
Stick to plain English when communicating. A lot of content can be compressed into a brief and direct message. Flowery language will not make you sound smarter and will likely cause confusion, so it is best to get straight to the point.
Teammates want to communicate effectively — they just want to feel comfortable doing it in their own way. Communication can appear quite complex, but if you break it down, it can become much simpler. Here are some strategies that any excellent project manager applies at work.
Strategies for Better Communication at Work
1. Recognize different communication styles
Not one person is the same when it comes to communication. While there are four main categories of communication styles, human communication is much more nuanced, but learning these categories are still a great place to start: intuitive, analytical, functional, and personal. Make sure you recognize and understand your own communication style before determining the communication styles of your teammates.
Once you know your own communication style and have identified others’ communication styles, you can bridge the gap between these styles and learn how to communicate in their communication style. For example, if you are an analytical person requiring more details and your teammate is intuitive, requiring less direction, then perhaps you will not need to provide as many details that you yourself would require.
2. Build a safe environment
Your teammates want to feel safe, so they feel they can openly communicate at work without being ignored or patronized. As a leader, you must recognize that everyone comes from different backgrounds, fostering different opinions and ideas. If your teammates feel they can trust and respect you, they will feel comfortable enough to speak up.
3. Listen to others
Openly listen to others and acknowledge their viewpoints, even if you disagree. There is always an opportunity to learn something new or different. And who knows, you may find yourself being swayed to do things in a better way.
4. Remember the goal
Don’t lose sight of the gold. You can talk to your teammates about common visions and goals between everyone on the team. This way, you are not thinking about what is in it for you. Instead, you’re thinking about what is in it for your team and the greater good.
5. Build objectives
Every milestone should be celebrated to boost your team’s productivity momentum. Be specific with goals to make sure everyone knows their place on the team and what they are supposed to be doing. Rather than merely celebrating at the completion of the project, reward your teammates for meeting their own objectives so that they feel motivated to continue doing hard work.
6. Have a purpose for all communication
Have an intention for every communication at work to avoid wasting time and hindering productivity. Whether that form of communication is a meeting, a phone call, or an email, every form of communication should have a clearly identifiable purpose. Before interacting with your teammates, make sure you know the following: (a) what you want the desired outcome to be, (b) know what you need and expect from them, © and know your role and strengths for how you can help and contribute.
7. Be positive
You can work hard and have fun and still get things done. And at the project’s completion, you can relish in the success of the project by celebrating with your teammates. It’s easy to remain positive when the project is running smoothly, but remember to stay positive even when things are not going according to plan.
As mentioned above, communication at work makes up 90% of a project manager’s role, but what about the remaining 10%? That 10% involves analyzing data and planning accordingly to ensure you are progressing according to the project’s scope and schedule. Project management software can help you assess your time to see where resources could be better spent. actiTIME uses the power of data to enhance your business productivity.