This one is probably common sense, but needs to be discussed. For you married Project Managers out there…how many times has your wife been absolutely certain she told you ‘x’ when you either heard ‘y’ or nothing at all?  And how many times has that worked the other way around? My guess is that it’s at least a weekly occurrence. 

Granted, we’re often very casual with our ‘at home’ communication methods and we certainly aren’t committing discussions to notes like we do during our client conversations and status calls.  But our communications with our spouses are very important and we often drop the ball on them knowing full well how important they are and how much ‘in trouble’ we could get if they are misinterpreted or ignored.

Listen Effectively

What I’ve been trying to say so far in this article basically is that effective communication begins with effective listening.  As the Project Manager, our primary communication comes mainly from the following sources:

  • Executive management
  • Delivery team members
  • Customer project sponsor
  • Customer team members
  • Delivery organization support personnel

How well we use and communicate this potentially critical information received from these sources is dependent – in a large part – on how well we have listened to and absorbed the information. I highly recommend taking notes on any important calls, meetings, and adhoc conversations that affect your project. 

Document Well

If you develop a reputation for taking good notes and distributing critical notes and meeting updates to project team members, then your documentation will be well trusted on current and future projects.  This has worked well for me as I have a reputation for frequent emails to my project team members as well as providing follow-up notes following meetings and discussions. 

My team members and customers know I take detailed notes on calls – they like to joke about the keyboard noise they hear in the background while I’m leading status calls.  But they also never question me when I backup things that were promised or said on calls with notes that I’ve captured from those conversations because they know I’m listening and taking accurate notes of important project discussions.

Review Your Communications

In order to preserve this reputation, read, read and re-read communications that you are sending out.  If it’s not an emergency communication that needs to be made immediately, then take the time to proof-read your communication, check for appropriate email attachments and view your communication from the receiver’s point of view. 

The last thing you want is to have the reputation as the one how always has to send communications twice because you forgot the attachment the first time (you know who you are!).  Nor do you want the reputation of the one who sends rambling emails and documents that leave the reader confused or that fail to make a strong point.  If you struggle in this area, trying outlining your thoughts first and treat every written communication as if it were the most important thing you have to do today.


How you communicate information on your project can have a profound effect on the outcome.  Do whatever you can to ensure that you listen effectively and pass on information accurately to your team and to your customer.  Misunderstood and miscommunicated information can result in improper actions taken, assignments missed or misunderstood, and overall major impacts to project timelines and budgets.