The Most Important Project Management Skill is Good Communications

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By David Barrett

A project manager’s primary job is to deliver information about his or her project in a timely manner, to the right people, in the right format. Keeping all stakeholders updated on important project information is critical and, in my mind, probably the number one job of a project manager.

The best of the best will have a well-established communication “engine” that they set into gear at the start of every project: a communications plan, a stakeholder analysis, and a confirmation of the needs and wishes of each major stakeholder regarding the flow of information.

Communicate in a timely manner. As the information flows out of a project, it can do so in many ways. But most importantly, it has to get out on time. Key stakeholders should expect to know key information about their projects as soon as it is necessary. When trouble is brewing, a good project manager will deliver that information well before the deadline dates – not when it’s too late. A good project manager will monitor project details and make decisions on when that information should be shared with key stakeholders.

Communicate to the right people. If your project manager has done a stakeholder analysis, he or she will know who should get what information. It is critical to project success that we identify where information should go at the front end of any initiative. Nothing can derail a project faster than a key stakeholder being left out of the loop.

Communicate in the right format. Each of our stakeholders will receive information in a slightly different way. We cannot accommodate everyone but we can certainly take the time to consider issues that will make the communication more difficult. Some may want their reports in hard copy instead of electronic. Others may need a special font change due to visual impairment. Others may not want the information before a certain time within the project. And so the list goes on. The more important the stakeholder, the more critical it is that your project manager asks the question about how they want to receive the information.

As I say, the project manager’s primary job is to deliver key project information in a timely manner, to the right people and in the right format. Key this as your job #1 and you will be assured that all of your stakeholders will remain on board.

David Barrett is an international speaker on leadership and project management, and national program director for the Masters Certificate in Project Management at the Schulich Executive Education Centre. This article was originally published in his project management blog on April 19, 2017.

The Masters Certificate in Project Management is offered at SEEC’s Nadal Management Centre starting Jan. 18, 2018 and runs through May 5, and again in September. For details and registration information, visit the program website, where you can also find details about program dates at University Network partners across Canada.

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