How to Talk to Developers: A Project Manager’s Manual
As a Project Manager, you need to do a lot of heavy lifting.
While the role varies from company to company, the level of responsibility remains the same, regardless of whether you’re dealing with clients or in-house projects.
Besides the responsibilities, there is one soft skill that a project manager must have: communication skills.
Communicating with team members, coordinating activities, planning and implementation – all these characteristics are vital skills for a manager to have.
Effective Communication and It’s Importance for a Project Manager
For this section, we’re not going to go off on a tangent and give you a lecture on what communication is.
All you need to know about effective communication is that it’s communicating in a way that gets your message across to the other person. That’s all.
For project managers, delivery is everything. In order to deliver the end product, they need to deliver the essential message to the developers in a way that makes sense.
Let’s elaborate on this:
IT Project Management in an Organization
For a tech company, the project manager’s role is the core of the business operation.
Standing as a bridge between the production staff (developers, primarily) and senior management, clientele, as well as other third-parties, a project manager is responsible for ensuring seamless delivery of the end product.
It can be an overwhelming position to be in. Rigidity in your workflows is not going to cut it. Therein lies the need for the PM to be flexible, and take each situation as a new experience.
While a major part of the PM’s role involves improving a business’s work processes and reaching organizational goals, that’s not all there is to it.
A PM is also responsible for creating a motivated workforce that shows exemplary team dynamics.
Communication is vital in this regard since effective communication can prove a driving force towards making your teams communicate effectively as well. All of this has the benefit of creating a system of accountability that promises results.
5 Principles to Effective Communication with Developers
Every PM has a different method of communication. Even so, there are certain essentials of effective communication that you need to keep in mind:
Simplicity Outweighs Complexity
When you communicate with your team members, it’s best to keep the language simple. Avoid using corporate jargon. You want to communicate to get the point across, not to impress. Corporate language is hardly impressive.
Be a Person of Your Word
A plan is just a scribbling on paper or words on a computer screen unless they’re backed by action. Whatever you say or do, make sure that it’s applicable and can be put into practice. Once you’ve ensured that, you need to be proactive and put that plan into practice.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Run High
Successes and failures run in tandem to one another. With pressure from clients, upper management, deadlines, among other factors, things can get overwhelming very quickly. At this point, it’s important that you don’t let your emotions run high.
Be objective and not let emotions cloud your judgement. Rushing into saying or doing something can only prove counterproductive down the road.
Communication is a two-way street. You’re not just a project manager, but a team leader. Besides providing guidance and scheduling tasks, you should also focus on discussing with your team members on the task at hand.
In an official setting where accountability matters a lot, you can’t leave what you communicate to mutual trust. You never know what might get lost in translation or interpreted incorrectly. Documenting things helps build accountability while also creates trust within your team and brand.
5 Communication Pitfalls to Avoid
In communication, there are certain factors that can impede communication. Often, they are present as visible hints, while in other situations, they’re happening subconsciously. In the latter, we only realize that after the fact.
In any case, these hurdles are unsavory and can make the communication experience really bad. To avoid it, there are three things that you need to take into consideration.
There are all sorts of members in a project meeting. When you go about explaining a task you need to keep that in mind since there will be those who will pick up the concept fairly quickly.
On the other hand, there will be those that need further explanation on the subject matter to move forward. As a PM, you need to create a communication strategy that mixes up speaking styles to ensure that everyone understands the concept clearly.
While a general strategy might save time, it can cause significant problems down the road.
Inability to Speak Your Mind
As discussed before, communication is a two-way street. If you’re not sure about a specific concept or a task, then ask away while keeping in mind the needs and wants of others.
You want to make your concerns known, and asking questions is the best way to do that.
Reacting Instead of Responding
If there is something particularity unpleasant or bothersome, then instead of reacting with anger, you should be objective. Take a deep breath and consider the facts at hand. With that, you can avoid unprofessionalism and at the same time, get your point across.
Not Paying Attention to Non-Verbal Communication
Always be on a lookout for non-verbal cues.
You see, when you’re communicating with an audience, there will be non-verbal hints from the audience members. Some might appear tired, confused, or in need of further explanation.
To get your point across universally, you need to look out for these non-verbal cues and address them as quickly as possible.
If you’re using written communication, then you need to be on the lookout for emojis, sentences, and phrases that are indicative of some problem.
Avoiding Difficult Conversations
Everyone wants their voices and opinions heard and taken into consideration. There will be certain moments when things get heated up. In such a scenario, it’s counterintuitive that you avoid it since it causes only resentment to fester.
Ideally, you should address each situation with calm and collectiveness, and resolve them to the point that all the hard feelings are resolved.
Communication is the lifeblood of a business process. The role of the project manager becomes indeed tough. With the right communication strategy, however, you can make the process a whole lot easier.
All of this leads towards creating a motivated team that promises significant growth.
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