Effective communication with a variety of different people is pivotal to success as a project manager, yet people often underestimate how complicated effective communication actually is. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, project leadership coach Susanne Madsen describes how communication actually occurs across four different levels, and your communication will never be at its best until you can operate comfortably across all of them:
- Procedure and structure
- Interactions and behavior
- Feelings and emotions
Take It to Another Level
Content is mainly the basic facts of the topic being discussed. It’s the cold, hard facts and logic, which makes it the easiest one for project managers to work with. The procedure and structure is a little harder to manage but equally vital. It essentially regards all the aspects of project governance, dictating which processes should occur and when. Managers must be able to speak clearly about sequencing of events.
The next two levels deal more with soft skills. Interactions and behavior relates with how people interact with one another. Project managers must set expectations for how people should behave around each other, so that people are interacting and collaborating effectively. The risk of not communicating at this level is that collaboration may deteriorate, which is a threat to the project.
Madsen acknowledges that the final level, feelings and emotions, may be the one that is the most difficult for project managers:
The last of the four levels of communication is the emotional level where we express how we are feeling in certain situations and enquire about what’s going on for our team members. This is often the most difficult level for project managers to access because they haven’t been trained or educated in how to communicate about emotions. … We don’t leave our emotions at home in the morning – we bring them with us to work. For project managers to be truly effective at engaging the team and building strong relationships with stakeholders they need to be able to communicate at this deeper level.
It takes time and practice to become adept at working with each level of communication. But for multiple examples of how to excel at every level, you can view the original post here: http://www.esi-intl.co.uk/blogs/pmoperspectives/index.php/how-to-become-a-more-sophisticated-project-communicator/