Communication – Spine of Project Success

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Problem Statement

We all know when it comes to ‘Communication’ it’s regarded as something that must happen as a part of project management activities, using basic/generic tools, such as Slack or eMails.

However, without a well-thought-out communication strategy and tools designed to store and regulate project information and communications, many companies are throwing lakhs of rupees out the window with every project they attempt to execute. Yes, it’s true.

Let’s focus on some facts which is the influence of Poor Communication

  • An Individual Study states that Companies risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project and new research indicates that $75 million of that $135 million (56 percent) is put at risk by ineffective communications.
  • There are top 10 reasons for Project Failure according to a study made by PMI. Poor Communication is at the top.
  • 1 out of 5 projects suffers from a communication failure. 

Strange isn’t it, we always sing a usual song when we initiate a project that communication is an integral part of project management and we should make sure that communication is happening at every step of the project. 

But Is it happening really?

George Bernard Shaw quoted, 

The Single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

Poor communication or Miscommunication is happening because of limited understanding of the word “Communication” and its process and habits we need to cultivate by following the important principles of communication. Only after understanding this core knowledge, we would be able to get out of this illusion that communication is really happening in the projects.

Communication – A Jargon?

Let’s understand what is communication. According to the definition provided by Merriam-Webster.

a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior

Simple right? We all can understand because it in plain English defines the meaning. But we need to dig deeper into the process part. 

  • What is this process or Communication process? 
  • How does this process work? 
  • How in the process do individuals share information?

Communication Process

The Communication Process ensures that how a message travels from one person to another. This begins with the conceptualizing of ideas by the sender who then transmits the message through a channel to the receiver, who in turn gives the feedback in the form of some message or signal within the given time frame.  

Source: The source, sometimes called the sender, is the person, organization, or other entity that sets the communication process in motion. Your primary responsibility as a source is to take whatever idea you have in your brain and package it into some type of meaningful message that people will understand.

Message: The whole communication process is about sending messages. A message is a primary idea or piece of information that passes from a source to a receiver. At the start, messages are more conceptual than anything. They’re your thoughts after a brainstorming session or sketches of a plan.

Encoding: Once you come up with your main message, you need to make it concrete. Through encoding, you translate your idea into a tangible, deliverable form of expression such as written words or a speech.

Noise: Many times, messages run into problems through the encoding, channel, and decoding stages on their journey to the receiver. They can be disrupted, delayed, or distorted by outside forces, known as noise.

Channel: The medium which is being used to send the message to the receiver.

Decoding: Once the message actually gets to the receiver, it’s their job to decode it. Decoding is the process in which the receiver interprets the message. When a message is clearly articulated, receivers should be able to decode it with ease.

Receiver: The receiver is the intended target for a message.

Feedback: Before the whole process begins again, receivers initiate the last stage: feedback. Here, they respond, directly or indirectly, to the source’s message. The quality of their feedback depends on the success of the decoding stage.

How communication process works in our daily conversation
Poor Communication Kills – The Funny side


A study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corporation reveals that employees spend close to 30% of their time on emails, Commenting on Jira cards, Updating clients, or asking for clarification in requirements. Beyond that, meetings, conference calls, presentations, report writing, and several other activities at the workplace involve communicating with peers, superiors, and other colleagues.

To ensure that you communicate in the most efficient and engaging manner possible and thereby enhance your productivity at work, you need to follow the 7 Cs of effective communication. Or 7 principles of communication.

7 C’s of Communication

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Complete
  • Concise
  • Concrete
  • Coherent
  • Courteous

Clear

Any message needs to come out clearly from your communication rather than the recipient having to assume things and coming back to you for more information. Do not try to communicate too many things in one message. This will dilute the attention of the reader.

Correct

When too many emails are being written in a day, people tend to type fast and therefore might make spelling mistakes. Spell check will not be able to catch it if the wrongly spelled word is in fact another word in the English language. You also need to ensure that you address people the right way and spell their names correctly. Additionally, you need to ensure that the reader has sufficient knowledge and education to understand the technical terms that you use in your communication.

Complete

A complete message will have all the information the reader needs to know to be able to respond or take action. If you require the reader to take some kind of action, ensure that you have a ‘call-to-action’ in your email and also communicate the urgency of the task in question. Incomplete messages lead to iterations, a lot of back-and-forths, and a waste of time and effort on both ends. Here is an example of an incomplete message.

Concise

People more often than not tend to write 4 sentences in a place where they could have finished the message in 2 sentences. This wastes the time of the sender and the receiver and in turn limits their productivity too. Furthermore, try not to add fillers such as ‘I mean, ‘sort of’, ‘for instance, ‘basically’, etc. Your message needs to be accurate, to the point, and crisp. 

Concrete

Concrete messages are clear and usually supported with facts. It gives a laser focus touch to your messages without being vague. There are details in the message without it being too long. A concrete message is solid and specific.

Coherent

Your message needs to have a logical flow. All sentences in your email or report should be connected to the previous one and stick to the main topic. Without coherence, the reader will easily lose track of what you have conveyed.

Courteous

Individuals who work together are not necessarily friends and therefore, to maintain a healthy working relationship, being courteous is a necessity. Hidden insults and aggressive tones will only cause trouble among individuals and result in reduced morale and productivity.

Written by 

Amit Nair is working as a Project Manager at Knoldus Inc. He has over 13 yrs of experience in managing Web Development and Mobile App Development projects. He has over 100 Projects in his portfolio. He likes to read a lot and recently started writing about his experiences in the Project Management domain.