Good communication skills can make all aspects of life easy. However, good communication alone isn’t enough to manage a work project. At work, communication needs to be effective. As a project manager, you can ensure the success of the projects you are leading through effective communication.
Effective communication will enable your team members to understand their roles and responsibilities regarding the project and help them set realistic deadlines. Effective communication on your part can even help your team members ask for help.
So without further ado, let’s see how you can improve project communication as a project manager:
Prepare a Communication Plan
All successful project managers have a general project communication plan as a template. If you don’t have one in place already, you can easily come up with one.
First, write down all the parties with whom you need to communicate. These will be your clients, team members, account manager, third-party vendors, and stakeholders.
Next, write down how frequently you need to communicate with each party. You might need to communicate daily with your team members and only weekly or bi-weekly with your clients. The frequency of communication with stakeholders, third-party vendors, account managers, and other parties involved, such as your reporting manager, will vary from project to project.
Lastly, determine the mode of communication between yourself and all the involved parties. For example, if you and your team members work in-office or on-site, you can have a daily conference at the beginning of the day. Depending on the project, you might want to visit the third-party vendors or talk to them over the phone.
These are just general guidelines to prepare a project communication plan template. The exact project communication plan you will need will be according to the project you manage and the industry you belong to.
If you already have a template like the one mentioned above, you can tweak it to fit the needs of each project. A project communication plan based on such a template will allow you to regularly check in with and update everyone involved in the project. Regularly scheduled communication will also motivate everyone to complete their part on time.
Moreover, you can also follow this communication plan to break down the project into smaller goals and deadlines to keep track of the project.
The project communication plan can fail if the project manager is absent. As a project manager, you will need to be available and present whenever and wherever needed.
Your presence and availability will establish your image as one who takes the responsibility of the project seriously. If you are ever unavailable or running late, inform the party waiting to communicate with you instead of simply being absent.
Effective communication is always two-sided. Besides formulating a project communication plan and staying present to execute it, you need to let others communicate with you. If you only talk and don’t listen, you will not fully grasp the job you are being assigned.
Moreover, it will also keep your team members from updating you on their tasks. As a project manager, you are everyone’s go-to person on the project. If any issue arises in any party’s share of work, you will be the first person they will want to notify. Hence, you must keep the line of communication open on all sides.
Encourage your team members working on the same project to collaborate and help each other. If required, you can also connect third-party vendors with your team members and stakeholders with account managers.
Encouraging collaboration between different parties can sometimes lead to more effective and easier communication and enhanced productivity, resulting in improved work.
Seek Help and Clarity
Some project managers confuse their jobs as mentors. They believe that asking questions for understanding or clarity will make them look incompetent. But that’s a mistaken belief. Project managers aren’t supposed to be know-it-alls. They are only supposed to be good at managing.
As a project manager, you can ensure greater success of projects simply by understanding the brief and the requirements of the assigned project. Ask as many questions as you need to understand the job. The clearer picture you have of the job, the lesser will be there any confusion regarding it. This will directly result in increased efficiency of your team and greater client satisfaction.
If you feel awkward asking too many questions, you can also ask the client to send a brief over the email so that you and your team don’t miss out on any points. You can then go through the brief with your team members and jot down any points on which you need clarification.
The client will only be happy that you went through the brief in detail and are trying to do your best from the beginning.
Effective communication also needs to be positive and uplifting. Even if any parties involved with the project face some problems, try to keep your tone and words professional and positive. Optimism is contagious, and you need to spread it to get everything done in time. Always focus on finding solutions rather than panicking over what went wrong.
Positivity among the team members can also be maintained by celebrating smaller milestones within the project. Whenever one part of the project is completed, send your team and third-party members an email of congratulations.
Acknowledge the efforts of each member who worked on the project and close the email with some words of encouragement for its next stage. If the project is big enough to be spread on a timeline of several months, arrange team lunches to celebrate milestones every month or every other month.
Finally, stay a little flexible. For example, you can stay open to tweaking the project communication plan according to different parties' needs. If the team members and third-party vendors are working on more than one project, give them some room to juggle between the two efficiently. But you don’t have to exhaust yourself to perform your job efficiently. You can tweak your working hours so that you are available to manage the communication between all parties depending on the project. When your presence isn’t required, you can trust your team members to complete the job.