Communicating 360 Degrees

27 08 2010


The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) states that a project manager communicates at least 90% of the time through written and oral correspondence.  The project manager delivers information to the project sponsors, the client, functional managers, stakeholders and project team.  This equates to 360 degrees.

Three hundred and sixty degrees of communication specifically means communicating information at different levels based on the participant’s positions and need to know. The following is a simple example: 

o       Executive level  –  Sponsor / Client 

o       Mid-level  –  Functional Managers / Stakeholders 

o       Subordinates  –  Team Members 

For maximum effectiveness, different modes of communication are needed for each group.    


Sponsor / Client – Executive, Top-level Communication 

Executives generally want concise and straight to the point communication.  Executives want answers not questions.  The project manager needs to provide factual information with accurate cost analysis.  A positive, “can do” attitude combined with excellent problem-solving skills is essential for gaining the confidence of the sponsor / client.  One golden rule:  Never surprise a sponsor or client!  Always keep them well-informed. 

These suggestions are applicable for written correspondence.  Oral correspondence requires other tactics based on the individual’s behavior style as these styles drive how a person wants to receive information. 

People respond more favorably if information is provided to them in ways that correspond to their behavior styles.  Some people want: 

1        A high level overview with little details (bullets) 

2        A high level overview with many facts and statistical analysis 

3        The reporting style:  who, what, where, when, why, and how  

4        To know how this information relates to the people involved  

 Example:  The head of the hospital calls a meeting.  His goal is to increase revenue.  His presentation consists of facts and statistics to back-up his plan.  

The participants in the audience who appreciate a high level overview which includes facts and statistical analysis would be comfortable with this presentation.   Conversely, ”big picture” attendants would become glossy eyed after the first five minutes; they are not detail-oriented.  However, one-dimensional communication is rarely inclusive enough.  If there are mixed behaviors in the audience present the information using all four dimensions.    Know your audience and deliver the message in the dimension(s) that best fits. 


Functional Managers / Stakeholders, Mid-level Communication 

 When communicating with peers, put yourself in their place and turn the dial to the radio station – WIIFM (what is in it for me).  Functional managers and stakeholders will be more likely to support a project if they understand how it benefits them or the organization.  Demonstrate how the project will solve a problem, improve productivity, save time / money then relate how this directly benefits them. 


Project Team, Subordinate level of communication 

The project team is actively involved in the project.  It is their responsibility to define, execute and control the tasks identified for the project.  It is important to follow the “Communication Matrix” and provide information as it relates to their specific responsibilities.  Do not over-whelm the team members with too much or unnecessary information.   





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