A project manager is the key point of contact between the team and the larger organization. If his or her communication skills are not great, he or she will fail to develop a good rapport with the team, and bring the best results out of them. It is also important to maintain a good relationship with stakeholders and clients. Lack of good verbal and written communication may end up bringing down the reputation of the manager, and also that of the team.
Below are a few common communication mistakes made by project managers. Taking a look at them may keep you away from committing such blunders.
Common Communication Mistakes
As a project manager, you are responsible for letting your team know of any small and big proceedings within your organization or your project. Mostly, these kinds of communications are made through email. Be careful while drafting your email and do a careful edit before sending it out. While editing, don’t rely on tools like spell check as they do not comprehensively point out mistakes every time.
Poor Presentation Skills:
It is essential to prepare well for your presentation to your clients or stakeholders. You should be in a position to answer all their questions confidently. Furthermore, make sure that the presentation is error free. Do a thorough check for spelling and grammar, while also looking for appropriate images to make your presentation eye-catching.
You can refer to Monroe’s motivating sequence while preparing the presentation:
- Grab attention
- Establish the need or requirement
- Plan to fulfill the need
- Imagine the future
- Put actionable items
Delivering motivational speeches and having persuasive power do not come naturally to everyone. However, following Monroe’s principles will help you enhance your confidence while delivering a presentation.
Not Listening to your Team:
A major aspect of project management is to delegate tasks, assign responsibilities, coordinate activities, and convey important messages. After delegating tasks, you need to be in constant touch with your team members, checking whether your message is clear, ensuring that everyone is aware of what they have to do, taking inputs from them, listening to their problems and trying to sorting them out.
Whenever it is a difficult situation, such as a discussion about an issue, convincing your stakeholder, disagreements, or building trust in your clients, it is best to have a face-to-face conversation rather than a written email. Direct communication helps resolves issues with ease.
Demanding clients may often force you to say “Yes”. For example, they may ask you to add an extra feature within the same budget by the next day or incorporate their feedback within 2 hours. These are demands which you may or may not be able to fulfill, depending upon the capacity of your team. In such situations you should refrain from agreeing to client demands. If you promise activities which are beyond your capacity, it will create unnecessary pressure on you and your team.
It is best to avoid responding immediately in such situations. Ask for some time from your client or stakeholders, while you come back and assess the capacity of your team, and the time and budget factors. Provide a response after a thorough assessment of the situation.
Weekly Status Meetings Vs One-to-One Communication:
Most project managers give a lot of importance to weekly status meetings. These meetings are important for understanding the progress of a project, providing project updates and understanding whether all members of the team are on the same page in terms of understanding project requirements. Although these meetings are important, they should be kept short and to the point. Also, to solve any deeper issues with any team member, you should focus on having one-to-one conversations with your team to find out their problems. They may not be comfortable bringing up their problems during weekly status meetings in the presence of everyone.
A line may have to be drawn in the amount of information that is provided to clients and stakeholders. Overloading everyone with too much information may overwhelm the recipients, leading to unnecessary interference from them.
Giving and Receiving Feedback:
It is human nature to avoid feedback for fear of criticism. It is not necessary that you will be perfect at the first go. Therefore, it is very important that you receive feedback to ensure that you are on the right track. Even if your client or stakeholder is not proactive in providing feedback, you should not give up.
In case team members are not performing as per standards, it is your responsibility to provide them with feedback so that they can perform better. Ensure that feedback is provided in a mild tone. Being rough and putting down your team member while providing feedback will only demotivate them and may result in the employee leaving the company.
Communicating Bad News:
At times, you may have to communicate unpleasant news related to the project or for the employee. A formal mail communicating the bad news, although convenient, is not the best approach. You need to talk to the person face to face and ensure that you don’t break his or her confidence.
In case something goes wrong in your project, do not scream or send impolite emails to your team mates. This will only worsen the situation. When something goes wrong, call a meeting and seek everyone’s cooperation in setting things right.
Being able to communicate effectively is of utmost importance for a project manager. Communication forms the root to planning projects, assigning responsibilities, and delivering output. It is also the source of all information shared within teams; it is the key to motivating people, and plays a pivotal role in changing attitudes of employees, clients and stakeholders.