Project Management Leadership Secret: Nurture Effective Communication

August 11, 2014 Marcus Varner

Michael KaplanWe recently reached out to 40 top Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) professionals and asked them to respond to the following prompt:

"Please share a remarkable leadership secret that had a major impact on an enterprise project you have managed. Please tell the story and the results that you achieved."

Today we highlight the response of Michael Kaplan, founder and CEO of SoftPM.

When it comes to organizational project management, communications is a critical component that, when executed properly, links all project stakeholders to a common set of goals and actions. If project managers (PM's) do not effectively share these basic components or team members don't understand them, expected outcomes are jeopardized and project budgets become subject to unwanted risk.

A basic prerequisite for a smoothly functioning project team is effective communications within the team and between the team and other project stakeholders. One of the dangers of project management is the belief that all communication links are operating effectively just because people are talking to one another. One of the most common pitfalls of communication is the assumption that because a message was sent, a message must have been received.

According to Project Management Institute, all aspects of project communications can be challenging to projects, but the major areas of concern are:

  • The gap in comprehending the business benefits; and
  • The language used to communicate project information being frequently ambiguous and flavored with project management slang.

The responsibility for developing and nurturing real communication links belongs to the PM. Understanding that the communication requirements of projects vary greatly, the PM can focus on several areas to increase project communications:

  • Remain an effective communicator.
  • Be a communications expediter.
  • Encourage good communications across boundaries.
  • Leverage technology effectively.
  • Use a project website.
  • Run effective meetings.

It Starts With Planning

The key to communications starts with planning and includes:

  • Planning communication both external and internal to the project;
  • Identifying meetings, reporting, and announcements that will occur with all stakeholders; and
  • Creating a communications management plan and using it.

Communications management must include planning and delivering information related to the project to all project stakeholders, which includes the processes needed to handle timely and appropriate collection, generation, dissemination, and storage of project information and the definition of critical links among people, ideas, and information required for success.

3 Key Lessons Learned

  1. Ensure communication among team members and between the team and project stakeholders.

  2. Create and use a communications management plan.

  3. Plan communication internal and external to the project.

To read more project management secrets, download the complete Lessons from 40 PPM Experts on Making the Transition from Project Management to Project Leadership eBook.

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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