Project Manager Tip-Communicate with Context

One of the most commonly sought after soft skills in an IT Project Manager is communication. In order for a PM to succeed they need to communicate effectively with both their team and company stakeholders. Business acumen and solid communication skills are almost always required skills in a Project Manager candidate, but not always easy to find. This is because many aspiring PMs are computer whizzes, used to speaking in the highly technical language of their trade and therefore don’t have much practice in general business lingo. If your communication skills leave something to be desired, we have a quick tip for you – always communicate with context. Communication is the key to a successful project. When people are making assumptions based on misunderstandings, the whole thing can jump the tracks before you even see it coming. Here’s how to make sure your message is always crystal clear:

Assume nothing – 

Just because something is top of mind for you doesn’t mean the person on the other end of the email/phone/table has any idea what you’re talking about. You could be talking to six people that have six different levels of understanding based on a multitude of factors. Always start by giving a little background and include details as if they know nothing and you will never have to backtrack and explain yourself later. Starting your sentence with, “Just to ensure we are all on the same page…” will help create context around all your context and that will make you an A+ communicator.

Include why – 

You will never experience a change in productivity like the one you will get when your team really knows their purpose. If you can go a step further and explain how it relates to the larger success of the company, you will have yourself a winning project team.  Besides the fact that all work will be a direct result of a solid understanding of the end-product, people are generally turned off by being treated like an inferior. Don’t insult your team by unnecessarily withholding information. They will just resent you for it.

Illustrate it – 

Sometimes the best way to describe what you’re looking for is to draw it out. Wireframes are an excellent tool for making sure the design is built within a context that will be easily understood by anyone. Stick figures also do the trick. The point is that sometimes having a visual example of what you are trying to achieve will do wonders for getting the correct interpretation out of your team. If it inspired your thought process it will certainly benefit your team and/or client stakeholders to take a look.