Communication is the most important tool in integrated project management. Communication involves exchanging information and customer-driven project management demands a free flow of information. The success of customer-driven project management demands communicating with and among all team members. It also requires frequent and effective communication with people and teams outside the team. The customer-driven team needs information to understand the needs and expectations of the customer. They need information from each other to complete and improve the project. They rely on information from support teams. There must be constant communication between customers, process owners, program managers, suppliers, other support teams, and the functional organization. Communication coupled with the sharing of the right information is vital.
Communication of the right information is a complex process including many verbal and nonverbal forms. These include speaking, listening, observing, writing, and reading. Because of this complexity, the information may not be communicated correctly. Even in the simplest communication model with just a sender, messenger, and receiver, there are many obstacles to effective communication. For communication to be effective, the sender must be credible, the message must be clear, and the receiver must interpret it the way the sender intended. For example, if the sender is not trusted by the receiver, the sender may not be able to communicate with the receiver. Regardless of the message, communication will be ineffective.
Communication gets even more complex if we add reality to the model. Rarely do we communicate with just a sender, messenger, and receiver. Normally, there are many distractions. We are influenced by our work environment—political pressure and fear. We are thinking about other things at home and in the workplace. We have different values, cultures, perceptions, and the like. The communication can be improved by the following:
■ Clarify the message.
■ Observe body language.
■ Maintain everyone's self-esteem.
■ Make your point short and simple.
■ Understand others' points of view.
■ Nurture others' feelings.
■ Involve yourself in the message.
■ Comprehend the message.
■ Attend to the message of others.
■ Talk judiciously.
■ Emphasize listening.
Because of the possibility of ineffective communication, it is critical to ensure through feedback that the right information is communicated. It is always the responsibility of the sender to ensure effective communication. Feedback involves providing information back to the sender to verify the communication. Feedback can indicate agreement, disagreement, or indifference. Feedback like communication can be verbal and/or nonverbal. Some guidelines on effective feedback follow:
■ Foster an environment conducive to sharing feedback.
■ Encourage feedback as a matter of routine.
■ Establish guidelines for providing feedback.
■ Discuss all unclear communications, paraphrase and summarize.
■ Be direct with feedback.
■ Ask questions to get better understanding.
■ Consider "real" feelings of team members.
■ Keep focused on mission.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.