Our assignment for this blog post was to listen to one message, presented in three modalities: written text (email), audio (voicemail), and visual (face-to-face). I was surprised to note how significantly the tone of the message seemed to change in each of these three formats.
The email was relatively straightforward, but impersonal. Although the tone was difficult to read, the subject of the message involved something an employee failed to complete, and could easily be construed as negative. The voicemail seemed aggressive and condescending, almost implying that the employee was being reprimanded. In contrast, the face-to-face conversation was very pleasant and non-confrontational. This is the approach I would have preferred in this situation.
The ability to communicate effectively is an essential skill for successful project management (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). Lockitt (2000) identifies four characteristics of good project managers: energy, ability, vision, and motivation. Yet none of these traits would result in productive team management without accompanying communication skills. Portny et al (2008) stress that “whatever form communications take…project managers should plan and prepare so their messages are received and correctly interpreted by project audiences” (p. 367).
Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Education, 2011) asserts that project managers are diplomats, not technicians. Murphy (1994) further states that “a project manager must possess certain characteristics so that the many variables in dealing with people in a group setting can be channeled in the same direction and function effectively” (p. 10). One crucial role of the project manager is to ensure that all project team members are working together productively. This can only be accomplished when the lines of communication are open.
In this example, the project manager should have taken care of the situation before it developed into an awkward message between coworkers. There should be a clearly defined communication process in place to handle any conflicts or disputes that arise.
You may wonder how this relates to instructional design. It is important to note that these two disciplines work ideally together. Lin (2006) states that “project management has been considered as an integral part of a successful instructional design” (p. 2). Allen and Hardin (2008) emphasize that “a project management framework helps instructional designers identify and manage key interaction points between the ISD effort and the organizational environment in which it is being developed” (p. 77). Project management does not replace instructional design, it supplements the process and allows for more streamlined organization.
Allen, S., & Hardin, P. C. (2008). Developing instructional technology products using effective project management practices. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(2), 72-97.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Communicating with stakeholders [DVD]. Baltimore, MD. Dr. Harold Stolovitch.
Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2).
Lockitt, B. (2000). Practical project management for education and training. London: Further Education Development Agency.
Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials. Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9–11.
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.