The Project Management Institute estimates that 90 percent of project management is communication, and that’s no surprise if you think about it. Between organizing dates, expectations, project statuses, and issue management, project management is all about getting ideas and solutions out and understood by different people in different groups. However, communication is a very different thing from telling people what to do. Communication involves facilitation, as Craig Mullen points out, and by facilitating your team you can achieve a much higher level of communication than just giving out assignments. This should begin with the project kickoff meeting, giving everyone involved a chance to express their thoughts and also set the tone of the project:
Preparing for project kickoff meetings creates an opportunity to listen to the team and get them engaged. An important part of pre-planning a successful kickoff is soliciting the team’s input and providing opportunities to talk about the project’s risks, schedules, and goals. The sooner the project manager begins to listen to the team rather than detailing his or her own thoughts on the project, the more likely and quickly the team will become engaged. Soliciting input from a diverse set of stakeholders substantially increases the chances of full engagement of the project team.
While project managers should have the insight to know how well a project is doing and where to take it next, they must also depend on their team to give them an “outside” opinion of what’s going on. Meetings that are open to communication allows a project manager to facilitate the good ideas of team members, not only gaining the best from their skills but learning how to continually optimize their own processes and best practices.