The Role of Communication in Effective Project Management

View all blog posts under Articles

In both large and small companies, effective project management is crucial. Project managers must possess both effective communication skills and the ability to articulate their vision for a project so that it stands out from the crowd. A project manager oversees company operations in order to achieve a business objective, whether short-term or long-term. Project management involves several moving parts, and the larger the project at hand, the more difficult management can be.

A project manager must possess a variety of skills in order to successfully direct their team, and those interested in a career as a project manager can develop these skills in an online Master of Communication Management (MCM) program. Students in an online MCM program will develop the communication skills that companies are looking for in their project managers, making them a valuable resource to any business.

Project Management Meeting

Image via Flickr by amtec_photos

Communicating Vital Information in a Timely Manner

Project management can seem like an uphill battle, as it requires a variety of tasks and responsibilities. If one of these tasks is mishandled, project delays or failure can result. Therefore, a project manager must not only keep a clear view of the overall scope of the project but also make sure they are available at all times to everyone who is working on specific tasks.

This is particularly true in large companies where projects may be handled by multiple departments. In this situation, a project manager needs to execute their vision for their portion of the project and must also coordinate with other managers to make sure the larger project is completed.

Communication is a key component of project management because it ensures that every person involved knows what they are working toward. For instance, according to the Association for Project Management, at the beginning of a project, a manager will need to:

  • Clearly define the goals of the project
  • Make sure that every team member understands these goals.
  • Outline performance expectations for all project members, as well as everyone’s individual responsibilities.

If a project manager can clearly articulate a project vision and make sure that the people working under them understand this vision, completing the project will be much easier, and the manager may not need to be as hands-on in directing the team. A project manager who can envision a project and make this vision understood by those around them will be better able to make their projects stand out from the crowd.

The primary role of communication in project management is to make certain that everyone involved shares this vision and the goals of the project.

The Association for Project Management also makes it clear that promoting effective communication requires that a project manager use both verbal communication and non-verbal communication, such as body language. The words that a manager may use, as well as his or her body language, are critical to effective communication.

Matching the Communication to the Project

A student enrolled in a Master of Communication program will quickly discover that there are several types of communication that project managers can use. Students will also learn that tailoring the communication to the specific project is crucial. While stand-up presentations still have their place in project management, advances in technology mean that there are several other methods of communication that can make a project more successful.

It’s also important for project managers to select the communication method that fits the needs of the organization. What works in a small company likely won’t apply to a large business.

For many project managers, active communication methods are the most useful. These involve interacting directly with team members, and they are the most effective way to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. According to 2020 Project Management, some of the most common forms of active communication are:

  • In-person meetings
  • Video conferencing
  • Telephone conferencing

Webinars are a form of active communication that is becoming increasingly popular with project managers, particularly those who work in large companies. Essentially, a webinar is a traditional stand-up presentation that is conducted over the internet instead of in person. These presentations are especially useful for projects where the team members are in different locations and gathering them would be difficult or cost prohibitive.

Some project managers may also make use of passive communication, which does not involve direct interaction with team members. Instead, the project manager would take a more hands-off approach and provide the team members with any resources they may need to fulfill their responsibilities. A few forms of passive communication include:

  • Blogs and websites
  • Emails
  • Online bulletin boards
  • Podcasts and webcasts

A successful project manager will use a combination of passive and active communication methods. Using these different types of methods in concert will make sure that every team member is able to receive information in whatever way they prefer.

Many project managers choose to communicate with their team using team collaboration software. These websites and computer programs allow project managers to instantly communicate vital information to their team members, and they provide a convenient portal for everyone to access necessary project materials, make progress reports, and complete day-to-day tasks. Project managers should understand available communication methods and then choose the option that best fits the needs of their project. Tailoring the communication method to the project ensures that everyone has the information they need.

Putting Together a Project Manager’s Toolbox of Skills

A mistake that many people make is thinking that project management is simply about talking and listening. While these basic communication skills are certainly a component of effective project management, they aren’t the only abilities that a manager should possess. In USC’s online MCM program, students will develop a tool box of skills that all effective project managers should have. In addition to being able to clearly communicate with a project team, students will learn how to view a project as a whole, prioritize important goals, and much more. Take a closer look at some of the most important skills of a project manager.

Connecting to the Bigger Picture

According to Innovative Management Solutions, the ability to focus on the larger picture is one of the most essential skills that project managers must possess. Most projects are made up of countless small tasks, and a project manager should be able to understand how these tasks interact and contribute to the entire project. Companies value project managers who can take the big picture into account, as this means they’re able to keep a large project on track.

Prioritization

Prioritization of goals is another crucial skill, and it ties into the skill of seeing the big picture. A project will almost always contain several goals; arranging these goals by order of importance is a key component of project management. In USC’s online MCM program, students can learn how to examine a project and determine which goals should take priority.

Agile Mindset

As recommended by Innovative Management Solutions, project managers must also be prepared for priorities to shift during the course of a project. Something that may have been a primary goal at the beginning of the process can become less important as work is completed. A project manager must have the ability to reassess priorities as projects move forward, and then communicate the new goals to team members.

Listen and Respond Accordingly

The ability to listen is also one of the most important characteristics of an effective project manager. A project manager should be available to team members whenever they have questions and concerns. Talking and listening are equally important in productive communication, and project managers can develop both these skills in an online Master of Communication Management degree program.

Characteristics of an Effective Project Manager

The goal of effective project management is twofold. First, a project manager needs to be able to communicate and direct their team. Second, managers need to be able to develop and execute projects that will stand out and add value to the company for which they work. To be able to achieve these goals and increase their value to businesses, project managers must have several important characteristics.

A data-driven mindset is one of the most important qualities of a successful project manager, according to Innovative Management Solutions. Everything that a project manager does or asks their team to do should be backed by evidence. A project manager who does not base their decisions on evidence is leaving their project to chance, which companies will not tolerate.

The ability to understand and employ the latest project management tools and technology is another vital attribute a project manager should develop. While working toward an online MCM, prospective project managers can learn about these tools and how to implement them in their future projects.

Effectively reacting to change is another characteristic of successful project management that students in an online MCM program can develop. Change can derail a project in several ways. For instance, a change in company leadership may force a project manager to redirect their project so that it’s noticed by the new heads of the business. Project managers must be able to react quickly to changing landscapes and adjust their plans for their project so that it stays on track.

Why Companies Value Project Management

Before enrolling in USC’s online MCM program, it’s important for students to understand why companies value project management so highly. In addition to increasing organizational efficiency, project management can benefit companies in several ways, which is why large businesses are constantly searching for skilled, experienced project managers.

According to Chron, saving money is one of the main reasons that high-quality project managers are prized by companies. These people will be able to keep a project within budget by making sure that no resources are wasted and that the project is completed on time. In addition, without effective communication and management, the cost of a project can easily increase far beyond the budget.

Project managers can also help a business work toward its mission by considering whether the scope of a project actually fits the needs of the company. While constant innovation and goal-oriented growth are hallmarks of a successful business, taking on projects that are too large can be counter-productive. Before a project begins, a project manager can make sure that its scope fits the company so that success is more likely.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, successful project management can help give companies an edge over their competitors. Some project managers choose to specialize in a certain field, and companies can take advantage of this specialization to undertake projects that their competitors might not be able to complete. However, regardless of specialization, effective communication helps to reduce confusion, encourage transparency and helps keep projects on time and budget.

Communication is integral to effective project management. Those who are interested in developing strong communication skills at work can visit the USC Online Master of Communication Management program to see how students develop strong communication skills and learn how to apply these skills to real-world projects and business situations.

Sources: