The Secrets of Project Management – Communications

To be a successful project manager you MUST be a great communicator! Project Management Communication is a skill that is never perfected, can always be improved, you can always learn more and it is key in pmp-practitioners experience to being able to initiate and mobilise your project effectively.

Communication is not only about speaking to and hearing from people, it’s about understanding the complete message and has it / how has it been received.

A project manager will spend 80% of his time managing communications with his team and stakeholders. Good communications is pivotal to the success of the Project. All Project Managers can follow the Project Management Communication Processes:

As a Project Manager you are more concerned with the key types of communication you must employ in defining and implementing projects especially as we enter more and more globally resourced projects. We’ll also touch on a few techniques and tools commonly used to aid effective project management communication.

A project team and its stakeholders is generally quite a diverse group of people. Project teams are usually thrust together to deliver a bespoke and unique benefit to an organisation, something new and different to the day to day activities undertaken.

Diversity within a project team is positive, it can be cultural, geographical, organisational, functional, age related, level of education and so on. Within such diverse groups communication is going to be a challenge at the best of times.

No wonder Communications is said to take up 80% of the Project Managers time and effort. So what are the secrets to project management success in communications?

The Secrets of success

  1. Communication of the Vision like a Leader:

Successful Project Managers are really exceptional Project Leaders. Good leaders are more than mere managers or the boss. The success of a project and its leader is a direct result of the performance of the team and inevitably the effectiveness of project management communication across the whole team.

For the team to all pull in the desired direction, the team needs to understand what its objectives are and how the team can deliver the benefits expected of the project. To achieve this the project manager must find clearly the vision of the end result and describe the route to achieving the vision. It is not achieved by PowerPoint, it is achieved by passion.

‘Vision’ implies being able to see something – and that’s exactly what should be achieved by the Project Manager in communicating the vision and objectives. The Team and Sponsor should be able to visualise the end result and they will then sell the result for you.

2. Communication is about being present and showing understanding:

Good communication and leadership go hand in hand. Communication is not only about telling what you want from the team and need from the stakeholders – it goes much deeper.

Successful project management communication is about being there for everyone, being in touch with the real challenges of the project, understanding the real issues within the team who must deliver the project as well as understanding the issues of the sponsors and the stakeholders, you are delivering for.

Being present, visible and engaged with everyone is important both the good times and the challenging times. Always be around the team even when things are going well, they will then be there to support you ‘in your hour of need’.

Communication is not only about speaking to and hearing from people, it’s about understanding the complete message.

3. Communication is language and passion:

What language to use, how to convey the message with respect to tone, feeling and body language. Be passionate about your message, you and your project depend on it.

Body language is key so often the words spoken conflict totally with the body language adopted to deliver them. This results in a confused message and misunderstanding of the issues. Always ensure your speech and body language is positive to win the full support you need.

You can use the power of emotion and the importance of ‘feelings’ to reinforce levels of understanding. If people you are communicating the can also imagine what it feels like, having delivered the benefits and objectives, this is really powerful stuff.

Imagine being able to see for the first time, holding your child or other great event in your life. Now speak with passion.


4. Communication is leading by example at every level:

A big part of this leadership is to be present but you must be prepared to communicate with all at their respective levels, whilst consciously listening to the feedback.

To be effective, you must be able to communicate with a Main Board Directors and the System Administrator. One is not better than the other, or does not demand more respect than the other both are equally skilled in their own fields, and both are equally important to the success of delivering the project.

Successful project management communication relies on being able to discuss the current economic challenges facing the sponsor on one hand, yet also be able to discuss the previous evening’s football results, on the other.

So a successful project manager can only maximise the effectiveness of communication within the team by being prepared to lead by example.


5. Communication is Simple:


£20 million Project, 200 staff at peak, 20% of UK Payments £487 Billion. Status summarised on sheet of A4.

We suggest maximising the use of diagrams, charts, graphs and tables and minimising the amount of written prose adopted.

A picture is worth a thousand words” is a well-known saying and it is no less true when communicating within a project. Help the audience visualise the point.

With project progress communication, the use of Earned Value or Earned Progress Curves is about the clearest representation of how particular areas of the project are progressing with respect to the project plan. They are great for driving discussion on the associated issues.

The financial side of a project traditionally lends itself to using tabulated data to report financial status, though report tables should only contain the information needed to communicate the real issues, avoid providing reams of data in progress reports simply because it’s available.

Effective and efficient project management communication is delivered by first considering the needs of the audience you are intending to communicate with, put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they need to understand, and then provide that understanding only.

Check that you understand the intended audience’s expectations beforehand by consulting with a representative first and check afterwards if you met their expectations (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

Also consider further limiting your project reporting to the practice of reporting by exception, you force yourself and the audience you are communicating with to focus only on those issues that are behind or ahead of the project plan. These are the areas of the project where project management effort and support is needed in order to steer the project back to its intended course.


6. Methods of Communication:

Given the geographical and organisational diversity within typical project teams today, successful project managers should also consider how the team can best communicate, and to put in place tools to facilitate efficient and frequent communication.

Today there is a wealth of technology based tools available to facilitate efficient communication, wherever individuals may be located.


A communication strategy should be conceived at the project planning stages, so key is its influence on the success of the project. You could consider communication methods to be either ACTIVE, e.g. Face to face or PASSIVE, e.g. Podcast.

Given the multitude of options available to you as a Project Manager, it’s important to pick methods that will add value, rather than it would be a cool gadget thing to do, keep it simple.

Always ensure you mix active and passive methods of communication to complement each other, this should be considered as part of the overall project management communication strategy.





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