Strategic Planning: Selecting Communication Methods in Project Management


January 21, 2013 by idinnovation

ID-10066570Effective communication is crucial in project management as it enables team member to share information and influence one another’s attitudes, behaviors and understandings (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). Stolovich (2012) describes project managers as diplomats and not technicians and notes that they must communicate in a clear, concise and focused manner in order to assist team members in staying on target. Communication is central to organizational action, organizations today demand faster and better forms of community interaction and the use of electronic communication technologies are increasingly influencing organizational communication (Yates & Orlikowski, 1992).  When deciding on the communication mediums that will be utilized during the project the project manager should consider the purpose of the communication, the receiver, and the type of information being shared    (“Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers”, 2012).  Effective communication is influenced by the spirit and attitude, tonality and body language, timing, and the personality of the recipient (Stolovich, 2012).

Draft, Lengel and Trevino’s (as cited by Yates & Orlikowski, 1992) theory on media richness applies a scale to rich and lean methods of communication.  Face-to-face interaction was described as “rich” and progressed to lean communication by following ID-10066538the scale through telephone communication, e-mail (which was included in later studies), personally addressed written letters, general bulletins, and standardized quantitative reports which ended the progression at “lean”.  Their research suggested that effective managers select richer media methods to convey ambiguous messages and leaner methods to convey unequivocal messages (Yates & Orlikowski, 1992).  Stolovich (2012) contends that ambiguity kills projects and it is essential that communication be precise and documented.

After viewing the program “The Art of Effective Communication” in the email, voicemail and face-to-face modalities my preferred methods were email and face-to-face.  One of the major differences between written communication and face-to-face communication is the possible lag time in response from the receiver (“Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers”, 2012). Deciding on the methods ID-10063061that will be utilized is a strategic decision made by the project manager (“Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers”, 2012).  Project management focused research suggests that a great deal can be accomplished through the use of easy-to-use communication and project control tools for managing training projects (Fabac, 2006).

When communicating with clients the project manager should consider the frequency, response time-frames, form of oral or written communication, format and established rules of project participants (Stolovich, 2012). Face-to-face communication is an effective tool as this method allows for communication to occurs both verbally and non-verbally through body language and allows for immediate response from the receiver which allows for adjustment of the message delivery depending on feedback (“Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers”, 2012). Written communication is advantageous as it provides documentation, clarifies ideas and assists in avoiding misunderstandings “Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers”, 2012).

The tone of the voice-mail was not as “understanding” as the email and face-to-face communication.  Often times in my personal experience I have chosen to communicate through telephone I’ve had to follow-up with an email.  Email provides the necessary documentation that is needed to confirm understanding. Most often I’ve found that after ensuring the tone of the email is professional it is more efficient to send an email ID-10034825as it provides the needed documentation without having to let the person know you will follow-up with an email. Although depending on the circumstance this can be the preferred and more professional method as sometimes giving a person a “heads up” is respectful.

Documentation is key not only in project management task but in most corporate environments.  Email is my preferred method of communicating thus my evaluation can and should be perceived as biased. When communicating with team members and other stakeholders it is best to deliver important information when all team members are present, when verbally conveying information it is always best to follow-up with documentation (Stolovich, 2012), tailoring communication strategy to fit the specific needs of each stakeholder is essential to effective communication (Achong & Budrovich, 2012) as is collaborating and communicating with team members that shareholders trust (Achong & Budrovich, 2012).


Achong, T., & Budrovich, V. (2012). Practitioner Voices: Strategies for Working with Stakeholders [Video File]. Retrieved from

Fabac, J.  N. (2006).  Project management for systematic training. Advance in Developing Human Resources, 8(4), 540-547.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Stolovich, H. (2012). Communicating with Stakeholders”. Retrieved on January 21, 2013 from

Stolovich, H. (2012). Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture. Retrieved on January 21, 2013 from

Types of Communication Medium: Business Communication Media for Project Managers. (2012). Retrieved January 20, 2013, from

Yates, J., & Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). Genres of Organizational Communication: A Structurational Approach to Studying Communication and Media. The Academy of Management Review17(2), 299-326. Retrieved from http:/ /links.j ?sici=0363-7425%28199204%2917%3A2%3C299%3AGOOCAS %3E2.0.C0%3B2-T





2 thoughts on “Strategic Planning: Selecting Communication Methods in Project Management

  1. Michele Solomon says:


    Communication is indeed an integral part of project management, and I think you did an outstanding job of outlining the essentials of good project management communication in this post. Your emphasis on the importance of documenting project communications, especially as follow-up to face-to-face meetings (Stolovich, 2012), is spot-on. It’s a sure way of avoiding misunderstandings and can serve as clarification and confirmation on any element of the project plan.


  2. Sharifa,

    I have also found it effective when using an email as a follow-up. It does make it more personalized, and when I had to interview candidates for an exam proctor once, it made it helpful to keep candidates informed. This can carry over into any project- a paraphrasing of perhaps what was discussed on the phone or in person.

    “Documentation is key not only in project management task but in most corporate environments”. This is absolutely correct. I think documentation in conversations is important as well because it serves as confirmation for the team down the road in case there are any issues on where the project is going. Even if the conversation is face to face, a follow-up email or response is an excellent way of leaving a “paper trail” on what was stated.

    Great post!

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