In project management – just as in life – communication is hugely significant but sometimes underestimated.
Recently certifying in PRINCE2® has reminded me of the importance and challenges not only of communication in business, but of managing communication as a two-way flow of information.
And there’s also a critical, but often forgotten communications skill: active listening.
The problem of inactive listening
People being inattentive, distracted, faking attention or focusing on the medium rather than the message detracts from active listening and means that vital communication at work can get lost.
The problems that come when others are selective about what they listen to – either deliberately or without realizing, or switch off completely, need to be recognized if you want to improve your ability as a project manager.
With the range of different personalities in a team, a project manager needs to be sensitive to everyone having their say and bringing necessary information to the table.
Supporting good communication with PRINCE2
The defined roles and responsibilities principle in PRINCE2 helps good communication, as people have greater clarity on what’s expected of them in their role.
In addition, giving people direction means they waste less time and manage their workload better. Having straightforward and descriptive communication enables people to respond and highlight any obstacles to completing tasks.
Employing this approach has really helped my project management activities in marketing. For example, I’m often working across multiple stakeholders, dealing with technical teams and ensuring I understand the technological details of what the business needs to communicate internally and externally. So, doing background research about scientific or complex topics ahead of discussions with other departments supports those conversations.
Project success through communication
The need for effective communication runs through all of my activities as a marketer.
For example, when organizing a company event at Lloyds of London, using communication effectively gave both my colleagues and I confidence that it would be successful. In practice, that involved engaging with senior colleagues about their speaking slots at the event and with panellists from other organizations in the sector. It also meant liaising with the venue and our technical teams for logistical support on the day. Briefing the sales teams on networking opportunities and bringing in delegates also fitted within the scope of this project.
Taking the lead role in organizing our company event required confidence in my leadership skills and communication that was both succinct and decisive to motivate and convince others to support the project, overcome challenges and react quickly to any variables.
Active listening was hugely important to make sure the stakeholders’ input was combined and we were communicating an accurate picture of the company through all our presentation materials.
For a marketer, listening actively to stakeholders has been essential in developing the right proposition and delivering a successful project.