Two business people looking at a phone text.

How Project Managers Create Effective Two-Way Communication for Stakeholder Engagement 

We’ve spent a number of articles discussing stakeholders and how to ensure they feel part of the project, and effective two-way communication is the foundation.  In project management, two-way communication goes beyond simply sharing information. It involves establishing a strong mutual understanding and trust between project managers and stakeholders. This piece delves into the details of creating an environment where stakeholders receive information and also actively contribute their voice to the project.

Customizing Communication Methods for Stakeholder Preferences

In project management, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to communication and an effective project manager acknowledges the different preferences of stakeholders. While some may prefer detailed email updates, others may lean towards concise phone calls or quick text messages. Adapting to each stakeholder’s preferred method is crucial. For example, integrating short, succinct video updates can be highly effective. Brief videos, preferably well-under two minutes, respect stakeholders’ time constraints while delivering a targeted overview of project details. This visual plus audio approach injects stakeholders with quick, easily digestible details. 

The Art of Feedback Management

Effectively managing feedback is crucial for fostering effective  two-way communication and goes beyond simply gathering replies. It integrates the feedback into the project’s workflow and decision-making process. But where does the PM start? The first step is to establish a well-documented communication plan. This step is indispensable, as it establishes the cadence and expectations for addressing feedback, ensuring stakeholders understand the importance of their input. 

The communication plan should document the frequency of communications. Implementing a consistent communication pattern, such as weekly status reports or daily stand-ups, provides a structured channel for feedback. This regularity reassures stakeholders that there is a dedicated time for their input to be considered and implemented.

Tailoring Communication to Unique Stakeholder Needs

Each project brings its unique set of challenges, particularly in terms of stakeholder communication. For example, we were recently involved in a project where the primary stakeholder preferred text messages as his main communication channel and refused to respond in any other manner. Naturally, this posed a dilemma for the project management team. This method, while convenient for one, was inefficient for the rest of the team. Approvals and responses got buried by other incoming tasks, and it was extremely inefficient to copy directives into the project management workflow.  The solution was a tailored approach: accommodating the primary stakeholder’s preference while ensuring crucial details and feedback were tracked via email to maintain overall team efficiency. This adaptation ensured that all parties were effectively engaged and aligned with the project’s progress.

Overcoming Early Communication Challenges

The most challenging part to establishing a smooth flow to stakeholder communications typically occurs at the project’s outset. During the initial stages, the team is still ‘gelling’ with one another, so adapting to the communication rhythm set by the project manager can be challenging. This period requires extra attention and flexibility from the project management team. It is during this period that the PM works to understand each stakeholder’s communication style and gradually guides them towards the desired communication pattern.

A Testament to Successful Communication

To create a successful project environment, prioritize and cultivate stakeholder involvement. At Technology Project Solutions, the emphasis on effective two-way communication is the foundation to all of our project’s success.

Conclusion

Effective communication is crucial in projects. A digital technical project manager must continually assess, and adjust if needed, each stakeholder’s specific communication needs. Managing feedback and being adaptable, especially in the project’s initial stages, are key. By integrating these tactics, project managers can foster a positive and productive working dynamic, ensuring stakeholders feel genuinely engaged and committed to the project’s success. This not only aids in project acceptance but also cultivates lasting trust, laying the groundwork for future collaboration.