; Communicating
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  • pg 1
									  Guide to
   Why communication is critical to projects
   A communications model
   The main channels of communication
   Examples of types of communications
   Filtering
   Barriers to communication
   Approach to communications
   Conveying messages effectively
   Listening
   Llistening techniques
   Communications planning

Why communication is critical to projects
 • The majority of projects fail to deliver what was
   required within the constraints that were set.
 • Most of the various causes of project failure can be
   attributed to communication difficulties.
 • Project Managers should spend between 75 and
   90% of their time in communication activities
   (PMBOK 2000).
 • By being aware of and mastering the techniques in
   the following slides, project managers and team
   members will be able to be more effective

A Communications Model
Communication is a complex process. To better understand
this it is helpful to break this down into components. A
communications model derived from the telecommunications
industry provides a useful representation of communications.


    Encoder       Message              Decoder


The Six Components of the
Communications Model
 Source: the originator of the message.
 Encoder: the translator of the source’s thoughts into a
  format that can be transferred to the receiver.
 Message: the product of the encoder, what is transferred
  to the receiver.
 Channel: the medium used to transfer the message from
  source to receiver.
 Receiver: the recipient of the message.
 Decoder: the translator of the received
  message into meaningful content.
Example of the Communications Model
 Consider the scenario:Mary wants to meet Jane for
 lunch on Tuesday, and sends an email…
  Source: Mary
  Encoder: The processing that takes Mary’s thought and converts
   that to words and then into the pressing of keys on the computer
  Message: The text of the email sent “Jane, can you meet me for
   lunch on Tuesday? Regards, Mary.”
  Channel: The email system
  Receiver: Jane
  Decoder: Jane’s conversion of symbols seen on her
   computer screen into an understanding that Mary
   wants to know if Jane can meet her for lunch on
The main channels of communication
 Written: reports, notes, memos, letters, emails,
  faxes. Written communication allows the recipient to
  reply in their own time.
 Verbal: face to face, phone. Verbal communication
  provides the opportunity to immediately deliver the
  message and obtain a response.
 Non-verbal: it has been estimated that over 60% of
  our face to face communication is non-verbal.
  Factors include our appearance, posture,
  gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice,
  eye contact end physical contact.

Examples of communication types
  •One-on-one meetings       • Personal letters
  •Workshops                 • Memos
  •Small group meetings      • Posters
  •Presentations             • Newsletters
  •Ceremonies                • Articles in the press
  •Surveys                   • Annual reports
  •Voicemail                 • Announcements
  •Electronic mail           • Brochures
  •Teleconferences           • Bulletin boards
  •Videotapes                • Suggestion cards
  •Audiotapes                • The “rumour mill”
  •“Corridor” or “kitchen”
What is filtering?
Filtering is altering the interpretation of the message by applying
certain influences or biases.

The receiver will filter the message according to their experience
and as a result the interpretation of the message can be very
different from what was intended.

The consequence of filtering is that there can be misunderstanding
which can lead to an unexpected response.

For example, the project manager may ask a team member if the
document has been completed. The team member may interpret
this as asking whether it has been written, and not whether it has
also been reviewed and signed off.

Causes of Filtering
Some of the common areas that cause filtering are:
 • Language: the receiver interprets the message based on their translation
   of the language to thoughts and ideas.
 • Culture: of the recipient and their understanding of the culture of the
   environment they are in (the workplace, the organisation, the industry, the
   local area and country).
 • Semantics: the receiver interprets the message based on their
   understanding of the meaning of the words used.
 • Knowledge base: the receiver utilises a different knowledge base on
   which to interpret the message.
 • Implication: the interpretation of the message may be based on
   assumptions. An extreme example of implication is sarcasm, where the
   opposite of what is meant to be interpreted is said

Causes of Filtering
• Ethics: the ethical values of the receiver and the sender can
  influence the interpretation of the message. For example the
  sender may consider honesty less important than upsetting people
  when reporting what happened.
• Reputation: The reputation of the sender may set a predisposition
  on the receiver on interpretation. For example the sender may be
  reputed to exaggerate.
• Organisational status: the role and position that the sender and
  receiver have in the organisation may influence interpretation of the
• Emotional factors: the emotional loading of the words used may
  differ significantly. For example the interpretation of a comment
  such as “it’s a mess”.
• Situational factors: the current mindset of the receiver.
  For example they may be distracted by some personal
Addressing filtering
Project managers and business analysts need to be aware of how
filtering can affect communication and appreciate that just because
a message has been sent does not mean it has been received and
interpreted as expected.

To avoid problems caused by filtering it is recommended that the
sender of the message check that the message was understood
correctly by asking questions, or asking the receiver to verify their
understanding of the message.

Barriers to Communication
Barriers to communication are obstacles that restrict communication.
Some common types of barriers are:

 • Playing power games: where communication is politically
 • Withholding information: for example a cover-up of an error or
 • Management by memo: instructions via memo rather than face to
 • Absence of communication channels: some recipients may not
   have access to the channel of communication that was assumed
   by the sender. For example email may be unavailable when out of
   the workplace.
 • Spatial separation: geographical separation can
   influence the extent and quality of communication

Barriers to communication
• Emotional sensitivity: for example the receiver may be particularly
  sensitive to criticism.
• Hidden agendas: where the person may be influencing for an
  undisclosed reason.
• Background noise: the level of background noise can impede effective
  communication. The large number of emails now being sent is one type
  of background noise that impedes its use as an effective communication
• Prejudices: personal prejudices and beliefs about types of people can
  impact the effectiveness of communication.

Dealing with the barriers
Project managers and business analysts need to break down the
barriers so that effective communication can occur.

One of the simplest methods of achieving this is to ask the person if
the barrier exists? For example, ask: Is there something affecting this
that I am not aware of? Is location a problem in communication on
this project? Is this the best method for us to communicate on this?

By asking questions the barrier can be recognised, and in many cases
removed or made less restrictive.

At the project level a communications plan can be developed and the
strategies put in place to avoid or address anticipated barriers.

Approach to Communications
Considering the potential for filtering and barriers to
communication a project manager should consider the
following in each communication they make:

Message         What information does this individual/group
                need to receive?
Method          What is the best mechanism for communicating
                with this individual/group?
Timing          When and how often should the communication
Communicator    Who will be responsible for creating and
                delivering this communication?

Conveying messages effectively
 • Be clear and concise
 • Avoid using jargon
 • Don’t brain dump - summarise
 • Explain first and finish with instructions of what
   you want the receiver to do
 • Don’t waffle - stick to the point
 • Don’t confuse several messages in one - keep it
 • If stating what to do and not to do finish with the
   do statement

Listening is a key component of communicating.
A distinction is made between hearing and listening.
True listening involves understanding.
Good listening skills are of major importance in
managing projects.
The project manager needs to hear and understand the
needs of the sponsor, team and stakeholders to be able
to produce the best results for the project in the most
effective way.
Business analysts need to listen very carefully
when gathering requirements to ensure they
are captured correctly.

Listening techniques
Some techniques to improve listening skills are:

 • Develop an appreciation of why we need to listen
 • Do less talking and stop internally preparing the
   next thing to say while the other person is talking.
 • Show you are listening – pay attention to the
   speaker, make supportive sounds and gestures.
 • Ask yourself if you have really understood what
   has been said.
 • Paraphrase back what they have said or take notes
   (depending on the context).

Listening techniques (cont.)…
Additional ways of improving listening:

 • Openness: be open in your communication style, show
 interest and curiosity.
 • Focus: ignore distractions.
 • Empathy: show an understanding of their situation, thoughts
 and feelings.
 • Positive intentions: maintain a positive mindset to what you
 hear, avoid reacting negatively or criticising.
 • Problem solving orientation: keep the focus on how to
 resolve or help the situation rather than on blame. Manage your
 emotional response and avoid confrontation.

Communications planning
The project manager needs to develop a communications
plan for the project to ensure effective communication
during the life of the project.
The communications plan identifies all regular
communications and key one-off communications such as
the kick-off meeting and post implementation review.
The plan needs to include all types of communications,
  •   face to face: such as meetings and workshops
  •   written: such as status reports and newsletters

Communications plan
                         Guidelines            Sample meeting             Sample report

   Title        Identify each communication   Kick-of meeting        Project status report

   Type         Classify by type              Workshop               Written

                                                                     Inform stakeholders of
                State the purpose of the      Set the scene of the
 Objective                                                           progress, performance,
                communication.                project
                                                                     risk, issues and changes

                State how often the
Frequency                                     One-off                Monthly
                communication occurs
                Who is responsible for
  Owner         ensuring this communication   Project sponsor        Project manager

                                              All stakeholders…      Steering committee, major
Recipient or    List each recipient or
                                              Mary Jones, Bill       stakeholders… Dave Lee,
  participant   participant
                                              Smith….                Janet Smith…


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