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Communication is a project manager’s most important skill. Project managers have to communicate with management, customers, the project team members, and the rest of the stakeholders involved with the project. The project manager’s foundation is communication – without effective communication how will work get completed, progress reported, and information dispersed?
Communications planning centers on, “Who needs what information—and when do they need it?” Consider all of the different channels for communication on any project. That’s many different possibilities for information to be lost, messages to be skewed, and progress hindered. The formula for calculating the communication channels is N(N–1)/2 where N represents the number of stakeholders. As a general rule, larger projects require more detail—and detail means more planning for communications.
The Communications Management Plan organizes and documents the communication processes, acceptable modalities for types of communication, and the stakeholder expectations for communication. The plan should detail how information is gathered, organized, accessed, and dispersed. The plan should also provide a schedule of expected communication based on a calendar schedule, such as project status meetings. Some communications are prompted by conditions within the project such as cost variances, schedule variances, or other performance related issues.
The communication model illustrates the flow of communication from the sender to receiver. The sender sends the message. The message is encoded by the encoder and travels over the medium. A decoder decodes the message for the receiver. This model is easy to remember if you apply the processes to a telephone call.
Within communicating there are five characteristics that affect the message:
Paralingual: pitch, tone, and voice inflections
Feedback: sender confirmation of the message by asking questions, for a response, or other confirmation signals
Active listening: receiver confirms message receipt
Effective listening: receiver offers confirmation of the message, such as nodding their head, asking questions, or other interactions.
Nonverbal: facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language
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