Ever wonder why despite carefully crafted status reports, detailed meeting notes or daily stand-ups, teams and organizations still have no clue what is going on with some projects? To quote former CIA Director Michael Hayden, “You’re not just responsible for what you say. You’re responsible for what people hear.”


No matter what the project execution approach is, a game plan as far as who needs to know what is essential. The communication plan should outline not only project status reports for the executives, but also clear expectations set for the project team as far as meetings, stand-ups, different communication channels (email, PM tool, groups, etc).

A solid communication plan is just a half of the equation – it is project manager’s commitment to “what she will say”. The other half, so often missed on the projects, is the follow up on “what people hear.”

Sending out a status report to executives does not guarantee understanding or action. Many times a quick call or a simple hallway conversation (something not in the communication plan), provides more feedback and might prompt a more meaningful action. Also, more often interactions that have nothing to do with the project, help in understanding team dynamics and motivations. This info can be used for more accurate planning and assignments, ultimately making projects more successful. Non-project related chat around the coffee machine might provide more insight into how the team is doing and what is the real progress than any stand-ups ever will.

So listen, communicate and make sure your message got through!

Two Sides of Communication