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Communication Challenges in Project Management – How to Overcome

Communication Challenges In Project Management How To Overcome, Project Management Blog
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Good communication has never failed anyone.

Good communication is an essential skill in all business environments, irrespective of the audience. However, in the workplace; good communication is a critical element to organizational success.

Arguably the most common root cause of issues in any organization is ‘lack of and or incorrect communication’. Break-down of communication is the cause of most conflicts, in the workplace or otherwise.

Effective communication isn’t just about resolving conflicts in the workplace; it’s also an essential factor in client relationships, team effectiveness, employee engagement, and profitability.

Ineffective Communication 1, Project Management Blog

Source: ©2013 Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report

A project manager has to be a great communicator to be successful.

Effective communication is a powerful skill; that’s never been perfected, and always undervalued. Project managers and the teams often miss their targets or become unsuccessful in delivering because of some communication challenges.

This article describes the challenges of project management without effective communication and how to resolve them.

Here I will tell you how to become more productive and efficient in projects by resolving these challenges. This will allow you and your team to face them head-on, empowering you to develop successful projects and turn adversaries into supporters.


1. Communication Inconsistency

Communication always starts at the top.

When the Manager doesn’t provide enough information; on changes in strategy at the workplace, employees can’t deliver as expected of them. It also happens when departments or team members do not share information, goals, priorities, and processes among themselves.

Most employees feel disconnected from their jobs when they are not on the same page with the manager, client or team.

Lack of clarity creates inconsistencies, confusion and people begin to make assumptions that suit them and relay incorrect information.

The silo mentality negatively impacts operations, reduces employee morale, and may contribute to the overall failure of an organization or its products and culture.

How to Overcome:

You have to communicate clearly and concisely. The message must be simple to be easily understood by all without any assistance.

All employees should be allowed and involved to make suggestions, share their issues, and talk about their day.  Management must encourage everyone to align themselves with shared goals in a collaborative environment. It will help all players to understand how they play a part in delivering it.

Then, nothing escapes; nobody can take the excuse for the benefit of the doubt.

2. Use of the right technology

Email and intranet are faceless communication routes.

It’s estimated out of 205.6 billion emails sent across the globe every day, only 1/3rdof those emails are actually opened. And, around 25% of the employees think email is a major productivity killer.

The present workforce is overly mobile, widely distributed across the globe, and often desk-less. The majority of the respondents reported being frustrated by the tools and platforms available to reach employees.

People tend to shun communication if it’s happening on a device or platform they aren’t comfortable with.

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How to overcome:

To ensure that information sips into your staff on the right channels, why not offer them a one-stop platform for all their communication needs.

44 % of employees want wider adoption of internal communication tools.

Understand the culture and the way your teams like to operate and identify project collaboration software that is closely aligned.

For e.g. instant desktop notifications, in-built chat apps, task reminders, etc. enable faster communication. Or if an activity can wait, having them assigned with relevant due dates and proper description helps.

This way your team stays connected, well informed, and on top of their work whether they are in office or halfway across the globe.

Communicating has never been that easy as it’s now.

But, if you have a difficult message to share, just stepping out and speaking to people face-to-face; will reduce chaos. Meeting someone once will solve what can’t be done even by writing multiple emails.

3. Not Enough Feedback

Feedback is your opportunity to receive information from ground zero about the progress, hurdles of any initiatives that are being run.

Sometimes, employees find it hard and hesitate to talk to their immediate overseer. There might be an issue between them. Or no one has the “guts” to tell it to the top boss as they are scared of harsh action.

In many cases, the boss is unreachable or unapproachable. This can be a big issue especially when the problem directly impacts the ongoing project.

How to overcome:

Feedback is a healthy sign and is important at many levels. It helps you determine how well your employees have met their goals, and it shows how well they collaborate with their teams, their colleagues, and their managers.

Positive feedback can make work more enriching, increasing team engagement and fast-track positive results.

Negative feedback gives way to scale and take corrective measures. But no matter what feedback is, positive or negative, it is a necessity for understanding what’s working and what is not.

Be available to listen to employees and learn from them. But also be honest about the strategy you will use to act on their feedback and ideas.

Try to schedule one-on-one appointments with the respondent employee. You have to build trust and guarantee the confidentiality of the shared opinions.

Having the right mechanism to invite, collect, review and respond to feedback will go a long way in reducing anxiety, taking proactive measures and get the desired focus from relevant stakeholders.

4. OutdatedProcesses

Always remember that processes are for people. Not the other way around. In most cases, processes are just stale old documents stored in a repository.

Half of the people aren’t even aware that a relevant process exists.

And, if at all there is awareness, they are so cumbersome and restrictive that people tend to avoid or circumvent it all the time.

On the other hand, not having the right processes in the first place leads to confusion among the teams. Everyone develops their own ways of getting the job done and ends up doing more harm than good.

How to overcome:

First things first, review your existing processes and identify which ones are missing.

Define the processes one at a time with adequate inputs from the teams that will be impacted by it. Understand the impact of not having a specific step or having too many pit stops.

Note: processes are meant to make your teams agile and operations seamless. If the handshakes aren’t defined in a time-bound manner, people will ignore the process.

Once, you have the processes in place, ensure maximum awareness. Run email campaigns; send meaningful statuses on a monthly or fortnightly basis.

Make efforts to ensure

  • Everyone knows where to access the process doc
  • The process is easy to understand and implement
  • Adequate info and FAQs are well taken care of
  • Right contacts, communication channels are available in the process doc
  • The defined process is aligned or supported by the tools the teams use

Most importantly, answer the WHYs – is it important, its benefits, impact on the associated departments and how it makes things easier for the teams.

5. Inefficiency in Leadership:

There are cases where there is poor or zero communication by the leadership.

The team members have the impression that organizational culture does not encourage conversation, exchange of ideas, and innovative thinking.

Project managers face difficulty handling teams from across the distributed places ultimately resulting in misunderstandings and stalled projects.

28 percent reported poor communication as the primary cause of failing to deliver a project within its original time frame, according to a survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association.

Your customers too need your leadership. They may not have all the answers and precisely why they hired you in the first place. So leading from the front is a must.

Your teams look up to the leaders for all clarity purposes &during turbulent times. If they do not receive optimum inputs, there is bound to be confusion, disruption, and demotivation.

Remember, demotivated troops never win battles.

How to overcome:

Develop & maintain a communication strategy that encourages openness and honesty & healthy exchange of ideas. Be precise and to the point on what is communicated, to whom and how.

It is best to implement regularly-scheduled meetings.

Understand the nature of your project and set up status reviews, daily check-ins, etc. at a frequency that is apt.

Try placing importance on live interactions like scheduling scrum meetings, standup meetings as opposed to communicating through emails or memos.

Dedicate time to discuss identified issues, risks, and challenges. Work on an action plan, share timelines for the expected solution & review progress.

You can share the right direction with actionable steps to your team members to implement. It helps to resolve inaction, re-align execution strategy and get your projects back on track.

The last word:

The positive impact of good communication at the workplace includes better project performance, higher productivity, and improved client service. You can achieve higher staff retention numbers and minimize the costs of staff turnover.

Organizations can improve productivity by up to 25 percent by connecting with employees, according to McKinsey.

You know, communication is an integral part of project management. And as a leader, you must meet the communication requirements of all the stakeholders.

Managing expectations, negotiating a bargain, accepting a mistake and saying NO when needed are all crucial elements of stakeholder expectation management.

If those expectations aren’t met, one way or the other your project will fail.

Hence, spend significant time to identify and address possible communication challenges and stick to your communication plan.

Visibility of progress and transparency at an execution level is key to generating customer confidence and building trust among the teams.

As long as you’ve got that covered, you are closer to success!


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