Communication Skills for Project and Program Managers [Book Review]

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Communication Skills for Programme and Project Managers is the third book in the Focus on Skills series by TSO. It is a companion volume to Franklin & Tuttle’s other books on leadership and team management.
It is based on the same principles as those. It is easy to read, explains the concepts with their practical application, and links back to PRINCE2 (r) and MSP (r). It is applicable to both program and project managers as well as those in a PMO role who are looking to establish internal standards.
This book feels more real-world experience than it actually is. Perhaps the people interviewed had more to say about communication and how important it is to projects.
The book’s first section focuses on the definition and context for project and program communication. It also explains how to adapt what you send to suit the preferences of the recipient.
This is explained using mainly binary preferences.
Big picture/detail focused
External validation/internal conclusions

This way of looking at people is helpful, but it can also be limiting. It’s like magazines telling you what to wear for different body types. ‘Big hips? Wear this! The advice women’s magazines give is not for the whole woman. It only works for certain body parts. No one is a collection of body parts. And no one fits into any of the 10 communication preferences.
I see the big picture most of my life, I like positive options and I always look at the solution from a new perspective. I don’t like the idea of doing the same thing (doing the same thing we’ve done before), or for difference (stepping into unknown territory). I enjoy time to reflect and to exchange ideas with others.
It will be difficult to convey a message that touches all my buttons.
Franklin and Tuttle look at this and give an example (p23), of an announcement that is written to accommodate as many communication preferences as possible. It’s fine, but it’s not easy to be everything to everyone.
Using stories to illustrate benefits
The authors use a case study as an example to show the benefits and types of communication required when a fictional project starts, goes through its lifecycle, and ends – successfully. This section of the book was less interesting to me because it tries to cram communication into the lifecycle, and sometimes doesn’t seem like communication is a natural process. It’s all very planned and clinical.
However, the appendix is fantastic. It’s not a tale – maybe that’s what makes it work better – but it does provide practical tips for effective communication. The email section is excellent.
Surveys show that 11% of email recipients read the email thoroughly, 57% skim it, 10% plan on reading it (but don’t get around to it), and 22% decide to not read it. (p44)
They didn’t include enough control-freak project managers within those studies. Except for sales emails, I read everything.
You will also find tips on how to create a podcast, blog, and newsletter for your project (but not wiki though), give formal presentations, poster making, and run focus groups and workshops.
The main text is 58 pages, excluding the index and glossary. It’s not a large book, but it packs a lot.
This was the least favorite of the three books in this series – perhaps because I read it last. I think I’m quite good at communicating so although I received reminders about good practice, there wasn’t much that was new to my mind.
Anthony Mersino’s Emotional Intelligence For Project Managers was a more detailed study of the same topic. If you feel the need to learn more, Franklin and Tuttle are good options.