Portny et al. (2008) wrote, "The key to successful project management is effective communication" (p. 357). However, when you are working with a team, there are a number of ways to communicate including meetings, e-mail, phone calls, memos or whatever works best for your group. After all, communication strategies are never a one-size fits all kind of deal (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d., Project Management Concerns). This week we examined a message delivered three different ways. Here is the e-mail:
This same message was delivered as a voicemail and in person. All three modes of communication are acceptable; however, the interpretation can be different. For example, the e-mail stressed me out initially. Jane uses a nice tone that is professional and not accusatory, but since I am a perfectionist, I began to panic that I had to get a report done sooner than I had perhaps planned it. Nevertheless, I was able to read it again and calm myself down as I focused on Jane's offer for me to at least send her the data. Now since this is a hypothetical project, I'm assuming I have the data already so that put my mind at ease because I knew I could probably do that immediately and then Jane would have it and be able to complete her report. I really appreciate the fact that I can go back and re-read this message as many times as I need to and with my e-mail, I can mark the message as "unread" so it will remain highlighted and keep Jane's request a priority, even after I have sent a little message to Jane giving her an ETA or the data. Because I like visual reminders, e-mails are effective for me.
Next I listened to the voicemail and I thought Jane sounded kind and understanding. The message was the same, but the words came out fluidly and without any special emphasis on any part of the message so this particular message didn't stress me out at all. Dr. Stolovitch said 90% of communication is not in the words and this is true of Jane's voicemail (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d., Communicating with Stakeholders). Namely because of her tone and the eloquence of her message, I was immediately put at ease and would call Jane right away to follow up with her. If I needed to, I could listen to the voicemail again; however, I didn't feel the need to do so because I think I would simply call Jane after getting her message. After all, if one receives a call, that likely means that the message was somewhat urgent and it is common courtesy to return phone calls promptly.
Finally, I watched the face-to-face message and I was not a fan. Jane was on the other side of my cubicle which I took as a signal that she was unhappy with me and didn't want to spend any unnecessary time with me. Her nonverbal communication was sending me mixed signals−her words were still rather kind and understanding (though the emphasis on "YOUR report" put me on edge!) but she kept her distance, crossed her arms, and she was probably standing up while I was sitting down (which makes her seem as though she has more authority or wants to assert her authority because of her position). She also didn't maintain very good eye contact with me, so I thought she was perhaps so angry she couldn't even look at me! Even though the message was the same, I think this delivery would have left me feeling agitated. All of the nonverbal communication that came with Jane's message this time left me feeling anxious and that would be the remaining feeling. There is no reviewing a face-to-face meeting.
Even though all three means of communication are effective, the deliver should learn about the receiver's communication style so she or he can avoid any miscommunications (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d., Project Management Concerns). Vince Budrovich said project managers should tailor the communication strategy to fit the specific needs of each stakeholder (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d., Practitioner Voices). For me, since this particular issue doesn't seem to be extremely pressing (hey−I don't even have to get my report done! I just have to get her the data), an e-mail is best. I am able to read it multiple times and use that same e-mail as a reminder, too. Plus it saves me from an awkward encounter that could be misconstrued to be something it isn't. However, others may feel differently so it is important that we get to know our team members and communicate in a way that is appropriate for them.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.) Communicating with Stakeholders. [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3398790_1%26url%3D
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.) Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture. [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3398790_1%26url%3D
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.) Practitioner Voices: Strategies for Working with Stakeholders. [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3398790_1%26url%3D
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.