Communication is one of the most important factors when discussing the success of a project. Working with an experienced project manager can help to take a lot of the stress and pressure off your plate, but you need to work hard to foster a good working relationship. Without regular and clear communication, you’ll find your relationship deteriorates, and the project can also be put at risk.
Our list of suggestions for the best ways you can successfully communicate with your project manager, is a useful guide whether you are working with a project manager within your own company or an outsourced one.
Types of communication
From the very start of the project, we encourage you to align your expectations regarding the type of communication you are planning to use. You’ll likely need to use multiple different forms of direct and indirect communication during the project, including email, meetings (either in-person or video calls), Slack, and any other tools your company uses. When it comes to communication, it’s all about finding the right methods that work for both of you.
Everyone has a different style of communication, and you may find that one works for you and your project manager better than others. Create a communication plan at the start of the project to help you set expectations regarding effective communication.
Listen and respect their role
Even if you find you are frustrated at certain points of the project, you’ll want to ensure you always listen to your project manager. Try to understand the issues they may be experiencing within the team, and then work together to fix them. Take the time to go into the finer details with your project manager and ask any questions you and your stakeholders may have. Respect the knowledge and experience your project manager brings to the table, and try not to start doing their job for them. This is one of the most common issues that’s experienced when outsourcing a project and something you need to work hard to avoid.
Trust in the work of the team and simply ask for regular updates from the project manager to keep you in the loop.
Set clear goals
One of the top reasons that projects fail is that clear expectations weren’t set from the very beginning of the project. While we understand many things may change during the course of the project, if you have a clear objective from the get-go, you and your project manager will be much more aligned in your understanding of the work that’s to be done. Both of you should establish which other team members and stakeholders should be involved in various meetings. Try to avoid adding too many other people into communications where unnecessary, as this can distort the clear chain of communication and disrupt the process. Document your project plan upfront and then regularly review this with your project manager. Ensure the team has scheduled updates for the project plan so that everyone has a clear idea of the status of the project.
Have realistic expectations
We’d all love our project to start and finish on time as planned, but as with anything in life, that’s not always possible. When working with a project manager, ensure your expectations are realistic, both in regards to time and scale. While you certainly have to discuss any late deliveries and issues, don’t be unrealistic with how much the team can do in a certain period of time. Expect adjustments to be needed throughout the process, as not everything is going to go perfectly to plan. Both of you will need to show flexibility throughout your working relationship, and we encourage you both to be very honest and open with your communication. Bottling up any frustrations results in more issues further down the line, so as soon as something is bothering you, speak up and discuss these troubles.
Don’t just assume that you’ll be told every tiny detail about your project without asking. With so much going on during the development process, it’s easy for smaller details to be overlooked in your meetings. If you feel like something has been skipped over, make sure you ask your project manager about this area of concern to clarify any issues. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to understand the processes that are used and the people involved. While you may feel like you are stepping on their toes, they’ll likely just think that you are extremely interested in their work. Both you and a project manager can learn a lot by fostering a good working relationship.
With all of the excitement of starting a new project, it’s so easy to jump straight into the work without holding enough planning meetings. Our number one recommendation for successfully communicating with your project manager is to take the time to get to know each other during the planning stage. The more time you spend together working out the finer details of the project, the better you’ll understand each other’s way of working and expectations. If you’ve outsourced the project, you probably feel like your work is done, but that’s when things start to go wrong very quickly. Don’t ever neglect to take the time to plan with your team, as this is the number one thing you need to do for a successful project. A plan helps to keep you all accountable, which is something that’s needed to form great relationships in any workplace.
Communication with your project manager can make or break the success of your next project. By following these suggestions listed above, you can help avoid some of the common frustrations and communication breakdowns within this relationship. We encourage you to be open and honest when communicating throughout the project and don’t let any issues or frustrations build up for too long. When you plan together how you will communicate from the very start, you’ll find that you set the path for a great working relationship that will result in an excellent end product for your users and stakeholders.
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