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Project Planning: The Importance of Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Updated on July 12, 2016
A successful office meeting.
A successful office meeting. | Source

Intro

After the project conception and initiation, the next stage is called project planning. As the second phase in project management, it involves the process of outlining the works to be performed, calculating the cost, making a schedule, and determining all the necessary resources.

Basically, project planning is the ultimate basis of the whole project, otherwise the backbone. The project will not push through without the necessary planning. And so, this stage requires thorough brainstorming among the team. All members must be able to contribute something to the success of the project.

During this phase, interpersonal and communication skills in addition to leadership skills are essential. Team building, relationship building, and conflict management are a few of the areas where these skills prove relevant.

Why communication and interpersonal skills are important when planning a project with the team in your office, organization, or anywhere else?

FIRST: It promotes teamwork and builds relationship.

A fun office meeting.
A fun office meeting. | Source

Having the ability to interact and communicate among and between the members of the team promotes teamwork and strong relationship from everyone involved in the project. Through this, each of the member is able to voice out their ideas and be recognized; thus, they become more motivated to work with others and look forward to a good end-result of the planning stage.

According to El-Sabaa (2001), the communication skills of project managers or leaders greatly influence how the teams execute their varying tasks, particularly during the planning stage (as cited in Alam, Gale, Brown, & Khan, 2010, p. 497).

Alam et al. (2010) explained that this is because the workers are people; they are not robots. And so, it is natural for them to associate with others using what they have learned and their creative thinking in order to come up with the best option. In fact, they can achieve their highest potential when they ask advice, counsel, or recommendation from other people in the team.

Watch and listen to what Paul Weber has to say about the planning phase.

SECOND, it gives rise to the ability to adjust with different kinds of people.

An office meeting with a department team.
An office meeting with a department team. | Source

Bourne and Walker (2004) pointed out that one of the most challenging situations project managers face when communicating is dealing with many people having various behaviors and thinking, especially those having difficulty to connect with others (as cited in Alam et al., 2010, p. 497). This primarily happens during the planning stage where all ideas for the project are finalized by putting into writing.

This is especially true if you have just gathered a team for a certain project and each of the member does not know each other very well yet. Some will act like they know or that they are the best, while others are the most behave awardee. You will also encounter people who have too much pride and confidence that they will not listen to the project manager.

Discover the 4 types of difficult people according to Vanessa Van Edwards:

THIRD, it inspires, motivates, or empowers everyone in the team.

However, no matter what the differences are, if the leaders have the ability to build a relationship with their group, which motivates or empowers them, everyone will have a common goal towards the overall success of the project.

For this to take place, Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995, p. 716) revealed the qualities managers must exhibit – skill, kindness, and integrity (as cited in Ng & Walker, 2008, p. 417); these three will earn them respect, trust, and confidence, which indicates authentic leadership (Ng & Walker, 2008).

Motivating and inspiring your team members by Brian Tracy:

FOURTH, it resolves disputes easily.

Handshaking team member or employees symbolizing that there's no more dispute between them.
Handshaking team member or employees symbolizing that there's no more dispute between them. | Source

According to Ives (2005), disputes are expected to occur because of the following: budget and schedule restrictions, power struggle (as duties sometimes overlap), intricacy and connectedness of task, and learning curve (as cited in Alam et al., 2010, p. 496).

Communication skills are highly useful to resolve conflicts that arise when planning for the project. If the speaker knows when to raise or lower his or her voice, when to object or confirm, when to add something, what words to use, and so on, miscommunication that leads to disputes and serious disagreement can be avoided.

Get more tips on how to solve conflicts or disputes in your workplace by Executive Leadership Training.

FIFTH, it prevents conflicts from arising.

The project head explaining everything to some members who have questions.
The project head explaining everything to some members who have questions. | Source

If the leaders know how to effectively communicate with their members in order to find a common ground, time-wasting disputes and conflicts can be avoided.

Peled (2000) highlighted that the responsibility of project leaders is not only limited to the supervision of operations, but also to dispute resolution (as cited in Alam et al., 2010, p. 496).

In doing so, however, Baroudi and Pant (2008) suggested that they must also have the know-how on settling indifferences properly and the ability to sympathize so as to prevent conflicts from arising (as cited in Alam et al., 2010, p. 496).

So what is the bottom line???

Based on the five main reasons cited, it can be said that interpersonal skills are especially vital during the project planning phase. It is where teamwork is highly needed. Accordingly, the soft skill of communication is crucial during the project planning in order to avoid conflicts that destroys the teams’ relationship.

Overall, being a great project management necessitates effective communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Just like the teams’ various tasks, these three are interdependent.

References:

Alam, M., Gale, A., Brown, M., & Khan, A.I. (2010). The importance of human skills in project management professional development. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 3, 495-516.

Grantham, L. (2008). Adoption of leadership mandated project management standards, methods and training in a global enterprise (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest information and learning company. (UMI 3302615)

Latonio, M. A. (2007). Exploring the impact of organizational culture on project management: a phenomenological study (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest information and learning company. (UMI 3277194)

Ng, C., & Walker, D. H. T. (2008). A study of project management leadership styles across life cycle stages of an IT project in Hong Kong. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 1, 404-427.

Stagnaro, C., & Piotrowski, C. (2013). Shared leadership in IT project management: a practice survey. International Journal of Management & Information Systems, 17, 223-234.

Tessema, D. B. (2010). The relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership in project management: a quantitative study (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest LLC. (UMI 3402253)

Being a project head is not an easy job but is very rewarding. What do you think?

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    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 2 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      I'm retired now, and many of the points you've developed are very familiar and accurate. Interesting work. I look forward to reading other Hubs you've written!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I taught Human Resources course as a Management Professor at the University for a number of years. Many memories!! ;-)

    • GiftsByDiana profile image

      Diana Burrell-Shipton 2 years ago from Hubbard, Ohio, USA

      Nice page with good tips !

      I gave it a "useful" rating.

      Thank you for following me.

    • Evane profile image
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      Lovely Evaine 2 years ago

      Yeah :) Thank you :) I am your fan :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      An interesting presentation of all the skills required. Personal and communication skills are so important, not only in work but also, of course, in life.

      Good hub and thank you for following me.

      Ann