Why project managers need to be great communicators

The Project Management Institute (PMI) says that PMs should spend at least 90 per cent of their time communicating – and when you think about the meetings, delegation and KPIs that come with leading a project, it’s easy to see why you need first-class communication skills to really succeed as a project manager.

In fact, having poor communication skills could cause your project to go pear-shaped. In a report from the PMI, it was found that one in five projects fail due to ineffective communication – and as PM, it’s your job to keep your team and stakeholders in the loop at all times.

No matter how good a talker you think you are, communication skills can always be improved. In this blog, we’ll highlight a few of the reasons why excellent interpersonal skills are vital for any PM.

Articulating the vision

Arguably the most important part of any project, being able to articulate the reason for the project to team members and stakeholders is crucial.

If you can’t clearly communicate what the end result will be, you and your team won’t be able to efficiently work towards the end goal. Being clear, concise and direct is key when outlining your vision.

According to Dr. James T. Brown in a 2017 APM webinar, poor stakeholder engagement is often caused by project managers communicating at ‘project level’, rather than articulating the wider picture. By improving your communication skills, you’ll also be improving the relationship with your stakeholders.

Team guidance

Behind every great project is a great delivery team – but the project manager needs to be there to guide and support them along the way.

From setting initial goals to dealing with curveballs that crop up unexpectedly, you’ll need to provide direction and insight from the project’s inception right up until completion. If you can’t communicate with your team effectively, you’ll be at risk of duplicated workload, missed deadlines and unmet KPIs.

Reporting

Regular reporting throughout a project is vital, as it helps you and your team to identify any areas for improvement. But, if you can’t communicate the narrative behind the array of graphs, charts and diagrams, your team will be left confused and unclear on the next steps.

And when the project is over, you’ll have the even bigger task of presenting the outcomes to key stakeholders. This can be a daunting task for the most experienced PM, but if your communication skills are lacking it can be even more challenging.

Being approachable

Listening is just as important as talking when it comes to effective communication – but it’s often a forgotten art in the workplace. When you’ve got targets to meet, it’s easy to focus on workload and put your team members’ needs and wellbeing on the backburner.

If you come across as a talker rather than a listener, you could be perceived as unapproachable. If your team don’t feel like they can open up to you about their problems (be them in a professional or personal capacity), their productivity levels will plummet and the project will suffer. Always remember that communication is a two-way street.

Over to you

Would you like to improve your communication skills and deliver projects more effectively? Our project management apprenticeships will help you to do just that. If you’ve got any questions or simply want to find out more - get in touch with our team via Twitter, LinkedIn or email.

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