If any single leadership skill is more important than another it is communication. In all elements of work life the most common complaint about an organisation is “lack of communication”. The PMI (Project Management Institute) suggest a project manager should spend 90% of their time communicating and so Project Communication Management is a critical skill for Project Managers.
Communication ‘messages’ are perceived dependent on the method of delivery. Any communication is made of one or more of the following three elements:
The first is the words used – This is written word through email, text, memos etc.
The second is what we hear – This is how the spoken word is perceived based on tone, happy, sad, angry etc.
The third is what we see – This is how the message givers body language is perceived, defensive, aggressive, complacent etc.
Several surveys have been conducted on this subject and determining the relationship between the three areas and how much of effective communication is attributed to each of these three areas. The percentage split can be seen below.
Using as an example a situation where a manager is giving someone an appraisal and is saying “I am so pleased with your performance to date and very impressed in the way you have motivated your team and managed the difficult client on your project ……..” However, they say this in a quiet monotone voice, with their arms crossed, body turned away while looking down at the desk and avoiding eye contact.
Although the words are loaded with compliments and praise, they are being negated by the body language and tone which are overriding the true value of the message. Therefore 90% of the message received is non-verbal and is indicating poor performance rather than the contrary.
If we consider each type of communication medium we can see how each can help or hinder the imparting of the correct message.
“Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people.” – Dale Carnegie