For the past several decades, it has been estimated that project managers spend about 90 percent of their time on communication-related issues. This is why it is imperative that every project manager act as an integrator, coordinator and leader when working within an environment with communication barriers. Practicing and encouraging others to use clear communication is the difference between a strong, successful project manager and a mediocre one.
Poor communication is often used as a scapegoat during periods of adversity and disappointing project development. When unexpected issues, changes in plans and other common factors arise during project implementation, the phrase “it’s a communications issue” is often heard. This umbrella term usually refers to a multitude of problems, all of which can affect the successful completion of a project.
To avoid this pitfall, it is important that project managers and team leaders have the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with a diverse set of stakeholders. These include anyone from senior executives and contractors, to technical specialists and various functional groups. Effective communication with a broad range of stakeholders requires the project leader to possess a number of interpersonal skills, most of which center on communications.
Essential Communication Skills and Interpersonal Skills
A Google search about communications skills for project managers produces 5,630,000 results, which is an overwhelming amount of information by any standards. However, the most important communication skills can be broken down to 10 essential abilities. Every project manager should be able to:
- Establish professional relationships
- Set clear objectives for a team
- Connect the organization’s vision with the project in a way that will motivate the team
- Enable collaboration
- Build trust
- Create transparency
- Display confidence without arrogance
- Influence through energy and personal motivation
- Lead by example.
Interpersonal and team skills of the project manager as described in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition, are skills used to lead and interact with team members and stakeholders, including:
- Conflict management
- Team building
- Meeting management
- …and others
Considering the first list of essential communication skills and comparing it to the interpersonal skills and team skills necessary for a project leader to be successful, it is clear that each interpersonal and team skill can be included as a subset of “communications.”
Transforming into an Excellent Communicator
After reviewing both skill sets, the question now becomes – how can a project manager become an excellent communicator? The truth is that since there are numerous factors involved, becoming a truly excellent communicator is a journey, not an objective. It requires:
- A plan of continuous personal self-development;
- a commitment to developing emotional intelligence; and
- gaining experience through project assignments, coaching and mentoring.
To that end, it is not realistic to expect every project manager be an expert in each of the identified sub skills. However, they should be expected to facilitate his / her journey in becoming a more effective communicator. To set them up for success, the project manager needs to be provided with individual and organizational assessments to establish a baseline, guidance to expose skill competencies or deficits, and queues regarding where to focus the organization’s project management training efforts.
The Importance of Assessments
Group dynamics and corporate culture have a big influence on the strengths and weaknesses of a team. In fact, they often remain hidden if there are not accurate evaluations of each individual’s proficiency with communication and interpersonal skills. Ignoring the importance of project management assessments will lead to missing key insights that can improve performance within an organization. Providing these types of assessments will not only broaden your project managers’ awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, but will also help gauge individual, group and organizational skill gaps.
Project managers spend about 90 percent of their time dealing with communication-related issues. This makes strong leadership, communication skills, and certain tools and behaviors very important parts of a project’s success. Since the majority of a project manager’s time is spent dealing with communication problems, it is only natural that mastering interpersonal skills also requires clear and concise communication. This is why it is crucial to invest in project management training that fosters both clear communication and strong leadership.
Corporate Education Group’s Project Management Assessments will take an in depth look at your team’s strengths and weaknesses, evaluate proficiency in specific project management technical skills, leadership skills and necessary interpersonal skills. Based on your assessments, you can choose from a variety of CEG’s project management training programs or work with one of CEG’s corporate training advisors to develop a learning path specific to the project managers in your organization.
For a full list of our career-changing Project Management courses and for more information on corporate training, click here or call us at 1.800.288.7246.