Chapter 8 – Role of Communication

8.3. Types of Communication

Team Communication

Completing a complex project successfully requires good communication among team members. If those team members work in the same building, they can arrange regular meetings, simply stop by each other’s office space to get a quick answer, or even discuss a project informally at other office functions. Many projects are performed by teams that interact primarily through electronic communication and are, therefore, called virtual teams. To avoid miscommunication that can harm trust and to include team members in a project culture, the project team needs a plan for communicating reliably and in a timely manner. This planning begins with understanding two major categories of communication.

Synchronous Communications

When all parties are taking part in the communication exchange at the same time, the communication is synchronous. A telephone or Zoom conference call is an example of synchronous communication.

The following are examples of synchronous communications:

  • Live meeting: Gathering of team members at the same location.
  • Conference call: A telephone call in which several people participate.
  • Audio conference: Like a conference call, but conducted online using software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
  • Computer-assisted conference: Audio conference with a connection between computers that can display a document or spreadsheet that can be edited by both parties.
  • Video conference: Similar to an audio conference but with live video of the participants. Some laptop computers have built-in cameras to facilitate video conferencing.
  • IM (instant messaging): Exchange of text or voice messages using pop-up windows on the participants’ computer screens.
  • Texting: Exchange of text messages between mobile phones, pagers, or personal digital assistants (PDAs)—devices that hold a calendar, a contact list, a task list, and other support programs.

Modern communication technologies make it possible to assemble project teams from anywhere in the world. Most people work during daylight hours, which can make synchronous meetings difficult if the participants are in different time zones. However, it can be an advantage in some circumstances; for example, if something must be done by the start of business tomorrow, team members in Asia can work on the problem during their normal work hours while team members in North America get some sleep.

Asynchronous Communications

Getting a team together at the same time can be a challenge—especially if they are spread out across time zones. Many types of communication do not require that the parties are present at the same time. This type of communication is asynchronous.

There following are several methods of asynchronous communications:

  • Mail and Package Delivery
  • Fax
  • Email
  • Project Blog: A blog is an online journal that can be private, shared by invitation, or made available to the world. Some project managers keep a journal in which they summarize the day’s challenges and triumphs and the decisions they made. They return to this journal at a later date to review their decision-making process after the results of those decisions are known to see if they can learn from their mistakes. Many decisions in project management are made with incomplete knowledge; therefore, and reflecting on previous decisions to develop this decision-making skill is important to growth as a project manager.