According to Portney et al, (2008), “The key to successful project management is effective communication – sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner. Through communication, people exchange and share information which influences attitudes, behaviors, and understandings.
Communication may be informal, formal, written or verbal. Whatever form the communications take, project managers should plan and prepare so their messages are received and correctly interpreted by project audiences”.
How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?
The three modalities of communication we looked at this week are: email, voicemail, and Vis à Vis (face to face). In the email, it seemed snobby, arrogant, and a bit bossy. In my opinion, there is no way to accurately or effectively portray “tone” in an email. Other than changing the color and the font in an email, so as not to give the wrong impression or hurt feelings, one can only state the matter in a respectful way.
In an email, there is an opportunity for a misinterpretation / translation issue. This perceived “tone” could also cause a misunderstanding or hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally. This should be a third choice, or a follow up to an in person contact, if a project team is in the same building(s).
“So it is not perceived in a wrong light for other than its true purpose: to obtain the required data so the other team member can submit their report on time, change the color and the font.”
Voicemail is a little better than email. It can convey tone, context and meaning using voice. However, Voicemail is like email: one never knows when the message will be opened and listened to. Sometimes voicemails do not go to their intended target. Other times, there may be a malfunction in the telephone equipment. Then there are the times when the voicemail is just not picked up / heard.
Vis à Vis (face to face) communication is a better way to get the information one needs if they are located in the same area(s). It is more personal, it can convey meaning and context, and it provides more motivation for the team member(s).
Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?
Vis à Vis (face to face) communication is the best form of communication to get the information one needs if they are located in the same area(s). It is more personal, it can convey meaning and context, and it provides more motivation for the team member(s). People, in general, respond better. There can be no mistaking a person’s facial expression, tone, inflection, mannerisms, etc. which cannot be conveyed in an email or a voicemail.
The factors that influenced this decision: face to face communication is more effective because it is more personal. It also best conveys the message that she may miss her deadline. She is able to connect with the team member and they can also iron out any wrinkles in the transfer of information.
Not everyone is comfortable with Vis à Vis contact. So voicemail should be a second option of communication. They may not check their mail on a regular basis and may “miss something”. If they do not check in regularly, it could cause Jane to miss her deadline.
The last option would be that if one needed a confirmation, email would be a good avenue. However it still does not minimize the chances for a misunderstanding / misinterpretation..
A synthesis of thoughts regarding what this activity implies about communicating with members of a project team.
As a PM, the persons who need to know and want to know about the project, should be the ones receiving the information. One needs to take into account the location of other team members. It may be that they are spread worldwide and this poses another issue – lack of face to face contact. However, with the technologies we have today, we have the ability to Skype meetings or in the education systems – use BlackBoard Elluminate / BlackBoard Collaborate.
What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?
I think the most important item would be to make sure that any emails and voicemails are kept short and to the point, “just the facts, ma’am”. Messages can be formal, planned ahead, in standard format and on an established schedule. They can also be informal where the information is shared as it either becomes available or as people think of it (Portny, 2008). If it is an informal communication, to minimize chances for misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or hurt feelings, a PM could do a few things such as: confirm in writing the important aspects of the informal discussion; make sure that all involved in an important topic are present and addressed; prepare regularly scheduled reports in standard format; stay focused – keep on topic; minimized jargon; emphasize key issues in another color / font, or on different colored paper; and say what needs to be said and STOP (Portny, 2008)
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.