Key Project Manager Communication Skills

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Theresa Soltzberg

UCSC Extension Project Leadership and Communication Student

Are you getting the results you want as a project manager? Is your team as strong as you’d like it to be? You may want to ask yourself some important questions and listen closely to your answers. Improving your leadership practices and expanding your communication skills might be the difference between successful and mediocre project results.

There are some questions to ask yourself. Read on to see how to improve your communication skills as a project manager.

  • Who is on your team? I mean who are they really? If you’re lucky, you’re surrounded by different types;  guardians, artisans, rationalists and idealists. Why? Because you need the right people at each stage of your project doing what they do best. While it might seem that the guardians have it all covered since their strength is organizing the details of the project, don’t forget that you need your rationals to offer new ways of approaching design challenges, your artisans to figure out creative ways to build things (and your project!), and your idealists to consider the interpersonal aspects of the project.
  • What is your leadership style? Are you able to effectively reach everyone on your team and enable others to act? This involves the ability to delegate effectively. Are you being directive when you should provide support?…providing support when it’s not necessary? This might create the unwanted result of coming across as a micro-manager to someone who is able to work on their own. Think about what your team really needs.
  • Is your team motivated? Do you know what they need? Are you rewarding them? How do they want to be rewarded? Do you include them in the planning stages of the project? Do they know why they are doing it and the reason for the project in the first place? If you can’t trust your team to do good work, you may have motivation challenges.
  • How are you communicating? Have you thought about the messages you might be sending your team without even realizing it? Nonverbal communication actually has more impact than words. You can see how your team is actually feeling by noticing their body language. If your team is not making eye contact, rolling their eyes, or shifting in their seats after you announce the latest project change, they may be telling you something besides the “yeses” they just gave you. Keep in mind that you may also be sending your team signals that you don’t mean to send!
  • Are you able to get what you need from your team? Are there people on your team that you dislike? That you tend to say no to? Think about your ability to influence your team and the influence they have on you. Often we will give more to and respond better to people because we simply like them or they don’t violate our idea of what’s within the norm of the group. You may be playing favorites and not even realize it. Thinking about your ability to navigate the norms of your organization will also allow you to influence leadership within your organization to support your project from inception to completion.
  • How is your project structured? Is this creating any limitations? The way a project is structured might be dictated by the organization you’re working in, but becoming aware of the structure you’re working within might help you realize the limitations and benefits open to your project.

It may not be a lack of skill or information, but the way you are leading and interacting with your team that’s holding them-and your project-back. Ask yourself these questions periodically and you will be amazed by the results.

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