A Tale of Three Tells

This week’s assignment was to analyze three modes of communication in the context of the same business message from one colleague to another. Portny et al. note that, “The key to successful project management is effective communications-sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner…The ability to communicate well, both orally and writing, is a critical skill for project managers.” (p. 357, 2008). A brief analysis of each communication form follows.

Email Mode:

The message (send me the report yesterday) was understandable but I thought it was buried in some extraneous and superfluous verbiage that diluted the message. I feel that the message could have been distilled down to a couple of to the point, yet polite sentences.

“Mark,

Please send your report as soon as possible but no later than (some date/time). Without your report’s data, I cannot complete mine and run the risk of missing a deadline. The data by itself would suffice if this is easier for you.”

A direct and concise communication approach combined with polite tone works best in written business communications. Portny et al. also relate, “Written reports enable project managers to present factual data more efficiently, chose their words carefully in order to minimize misunderstandings, provide historical records of information shared, and share the same message with a wide audience.” (p. 358, 2008).

Voicemail Mode:

Jane’s voicemail was for me more effective in communicating her message expressing her need for Mark’s report or the data in the report. The personal tone in her voice conveyed well in a nuanced manner a clear expression of her requirements in a “human” way. If I were Mark, I would clearly be more apt to respond to the voicemail due its personal delivery.

Face-to-Face (f2f) Mode:

For most of us, the f2f form of communications is optimal in terms of effectiveness, especially in informal settings. The richness in communications from f2f interactions is part of our evolutionary heritage and no other technical mode can match it in terms of effectiveness. Some of the characteristics that Jane demonstrated in the f2f demonstration that I felt were useful to her included how she kept her body language signals at an even level. Her vocal modulations were at the right tone, and I thought that her eye contact was also effective.

The take away from his analysis is that regardless of the communication mode, each has its own considerations and factors that either add or detract from its effectiveness. Of the three communication modes, I felt that there is no “silver bullet” solution when it comes to communicating with a project team. However, I feel that this statement by Portny et al. is the most important factor for project managers to keep in mind, “Planning project communications up-front enables project managers to choose the appropriate type of communications for sharing different messages.” (p. 357, 2008). Simply put, project managers should not take effective communication for granted. Like creating schedules, handling stakeholders, and risk management, communication requires deliberate planning and due diligence.

References:

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.