According to PMBOK, 90% of a Project Manager’s time and effort is spent communicating on a project. This statistic is staggering, but is understandable considering this includes written and verbal communications using various channels (such as email, telephone, face-to-face meetings etc.). One thing not to get lazy about in project management is language, and understanding its power to influence success on a project. The most successful Project Managers I have had the pleasure of working with, based on personal experience, were also excellent communicators. They weren’t necessarily the best in understanding the mechanics of Project Management, but they were always able to positively influence others with their conversational tone, the sense of authenticity, demonstrated leadership qualities, and powerful non-verbal cues in communications.
The most interesting thing to note about these Project Managers is their ability to very quickly become friends with project team members. I don’t believe this is intentional, but more reflective of their core personality. The idea of treating project team members like friends can be very useful in garnering loyalty and support, team members want to work very hard for these Project Managers, in most cases to not disappoint them on a project. So what does this tell us about our communication strategies in the management of a project?
In my personal opinion, all communications by the Project Manager should use colloquial language. What this means is the conversational dialog should use common words and phrases, as opposed to extremely technical or industry jargon (if at all possible). The conversational tone should always be respectful, and as if you were talking to an old friend. This strategy to communications in project management may not always be appropriate, depending on the organizational environment. However, whenever possible, I believe it is important to communicate in very common speech. Not only does this reduce error in the decoding process of communication, but brings you to a level of communication of how you would speak to a friend. The last thing a Project Manager wants to do is communicate in a manner which is either difficult to understand, or one that is sterile and uninteresting.
Ultimately, success in life is typically about building and maintaining relationships, both business and personal. This is no different in the discipline of Project Management and its emphasis on communications. This does not mean you will always get along with Project Team Members or Stakeholders on a project, but it does mean the language used in communications should be tailored to the audience. Ideally, a strategy which attempts to create relationships which extend beyond traditional roles on a project should at least be considered. This all presupposes this can be done authentically by the Project Manager, and is a part of their personality. The ultimate goal is to create a close knit project team, loyal to the Project Manager, and one that is dedicated to see the project succeed.