Communication: face-to-face vs. email

Through all phases of project management there must be effective communication taking place. The method of communicating is a question that deserves some attention. With the development of technology more and more project managers are moving toward a reliance on electronic communications which has several benefits.

Email and other electronic communications allow project managers to work around team members’ schedules so they can continue work without having to stop for frequent meetings to handle the details of the project. Email is instant and allows for an efficient exchange of information. In addition, communicating via email gives the sender the chance to research and think about what they will say before they say it.

Consequently, some might argue that email enables team members to “pass the buck” more easily or simply ignore an email to buy time or avoid face-to face communication. In project management this can be detrimental. While email has its place, the most effective and powerful way to interact is in person. You can’t replace looking someone in the eyes to get a handle on how the project is really progressing. Face-to-face communication also builds trust and minimizes the possibility of misunderstandings and misinterpretation.

There is a place for both in project management but it is essential to have a balance of the two. Think of using email to communicate data and exchange project information. However when discussing personnel or when making decisions that might have a substantial impact on the project, face-to-face is most likely the way to go.

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