The importance of communication in project work
There are different forms of communication, with or without technical aids. There are also different systems of communication, such as the use of written signs or spoken language. Each of these forms offers a variety of ways of conveying information and thereby influencing the interpretation or understanding of the content. It can also be important whether the participants can only hear each other or also see each other in order to correctly classify the information. In situations where we are composing a concise message in a short message application, it is necessary to make a different selection of information than in a detailed conversation. Unlike written communication, oral communication can change the meaning of a message through nuances of emphasis or variations in volume.
Communicative possibilities for action
There are different types of communication that allow us to interact in different ways. Self-communication, also known as intrapersonal communication, refers to the conscious expressions that people make to themselves. It can be used, for example, to clarify thoughts and reduce stress by going through certain steps in a job.
Communication between people, or interpersonal communication, is of greater importance. Here, for example, the project manager explains the task to the project team, which creates a basis for working on the project. By asking questions and answering open questions, a flow of communication is created that allows information to be exchanged.
Communication between one or more people can take different forms and enable different types of information exchange. One example is "one-to-one" communication, where one person interacts with another person and establishes a direct connection. This involves a direct exchange of information and ideas. "One-to-many" communication is when one person communicates with many other people. This can be the case, for example, when a manager sends a message to the team or a leader gives a speech to a large audience. In this form of communication, information is transmitted from one source to a large number of recipients. "Many-to-many" communication involves the interaction and exchange of information between many people. Several people can be actively involved in the communication, creating a dynamic dialogue. This can take place in different contexts, such as group discussions or conferences.
In project work, this can look like the following:
- Example "one-to-one": the project worker seeks additional information from the project manager in order to achieve a better work result.
- Example "one-to-many": The project manager reports on the project status to the members of the steering committee.
- Example "many-to-many": The sub-project leaders present the status of their sub-projects to the project manager and the members of the steering committee.
Communication within groups
On the other hand, there are also organised forms of communication within the group. For example, a milestone date is often known well in advance, allowing those involved to organise the relevant review early on. This provides an opportunity for thorough preparation, gathering of relevant information and structured exchange.
Another aspect of group communication is the choice of medium. In today's world, where more and more people work remotely or in hybrid arrangements, digital media is becoming an important communication tool. Project members can use video conferencing systems to meet and communicate online. This virtual form of communication allows team members to meet and exchange ideas despite physical distance.
However, offline communication within a physical work environment can also be important. An example of this is when the project manager runs a workshop in the meeting room and then summarises the results in handwritten minutes. Copies of the minutes are distributed to the workshop participants. In such scenarios, direct face-to-face interaction enables immediate communication and exchange of ideas.
Simultaneous or time-shifted communication
However, there may be situations where an employee cannot attend the joint meeting due to commitments such as a supplier visit. To ensure that they still receive the relevant information, the results of the meeting are left as an answering machine message or emailed as minutes. This form of communication is asynchronous and time-shifted. The employee has the option to retrieve the recorded message at a later time and capture the information it contains. This type of communication allows the employee to stay informed and react, if necessary, even if they were not present at the meeting.
The way we communicate has a significant impact on the understanding, collaboration and success of a project. Therefore, it is important to convey clear and concise messages, provide feedback and foster an open and transparent communication climate. Selecting the appropriate communication medium, taking into account the needs of all project participants and adapting it to the situation are crucial factors for successful project work.