Science of effective communication

Understanding communication gaps in Project Environment for effective communication

Narinder Sharma

Effective Communication

In my last blog post – Are you communicating effectively? I started to outline communication in a project environment, today we will delve into this further and talk about the various types of communication gaps that occur during project work. I will also discuss the different modes and methods for effective communication. So let’s get started.

Project communication is often overlooked and/or written off as a subject area. Even so, project communications are actually among the most important tasks that occur in the project environment. Since the majority of a project manager’s time is spent communicating with team members, members of the other teams, stakeholders, project sponsor, project management office, third parties contractors that you might be working with, customers, end users and so on to orchestrate project activities.

Understanding communication gaps

Communication Gaps

Project managers should be prepared to battle and bridge various communication gaps. These gaps may exist due to cultural understandings, language barriers, gaps in expertise, personal viewpoints and finally, interest.

In today’s global and virtual teams context, project managers should be aware of cultural understandings and language barriers. There may be times that cultural differences may exist between the client and your team, and even different divisions of a large organisation, many a time, it is about ‘This is how we do things around here. What is acceptable to one may not be acceptable or offending to other. Care must be taken while dealing with cultural issues.

With technological advancements like Skype Conferencing, GotoMeeting etc., more organisations are inclined to use offshore/onshore models for both cost reduction as well accrue time zone benefits of virtual teams. However, these geographical distances also add gaps such as cultural differences and language barriers. Even if both parts of the world speak English to communicate, sometimes native English speakers use colloquial phrases and may have a location-specific accent which adds noise to the communication.

Different viewpoints will certainly come up during project phases, Oftentimes these are about project priorities and how project work is done. If not taken care of, these viewpoints can also lead to conflicts. Effective communication plays an important role in keeping it to a minimum. When two people with different viewpoints interact, communication flow gets restricted.

Throughout the project, your team may be static, it may grow or shrink, and you may have a deal with different vendors and other teams. These people may not have the same level of familiarity with your project. Also, not everyone will have the same level of understanding and expertise. You, as a project manager, are responsible for taking everyone along and making use of them in the best possible way. Nonetheless, this gap in understanding often is another reason for miscommunication.

Different stakeholders may have different needs, requirements, agendas, and motivations, and a project manager needs to be aware of this when they’re communicating. Stakeholders may also have varying interest levels in different parts/portions of a project.

Therefore to communicate effectively and bridge gaps, we must understand, plan, and manage communication to what we communicate, how we communicate, how much we communicate, and when we communicate. This all requires considering the different preferences and motivations of each stakeholder we’re communicating with. To figure out how to best and most effectively reach them and to determine what and when we need to communicate with each stakeholder.

PMBOK prescribes three different processes for the communications management knowledge area to accomplish it.

We’re only sending the correct information to the correct people, providing it when they need it, giving them all the level of detail they need, and doing so in a format that helps best serve the project. When we control our communications, we review those dispatches we’ve been sending out and those we plan to send out to ensure that they align with our plans and objectives.

I will continue to discuss communication management in a project environment in my next blog post, stay tuned…

That’s all for now, did you like the discussion and the topics covered?
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