Why Trickle-Down Communication Should Not Define Your Project Management Style

As project manager, it is your duty to keep executives, project team members and various management professionals apprised of information related to your project. Of course, a lot of the data should only be disseminated on a need-to-know basis. Even if there is no secrecy attached to any part of the project, managers – rightfully – groan at the notion of seeing their email inboxes fill up with communications about action items that have no bearing on their departments or work load.

Nevertheless, project management is notorious for encountering communication barriers. This is true especially in decentralized enterprises where different management styles lead to varying approaches related to information dissemination. Although ideally information should flow, in some cases it may trickle. It is here that trickle-down communication may actually become a serious liability in the long run. Consider the attitude by researchers from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR); when information sharing becomes a personal judgment call, it quickly slows down communication. Important data may be missed by key project team members or stakeholders.

Why is trickle-down communication perhaps the worst possible means of information dissemination? A few highlights – or low lights – showcase the problems:

Diverse communication is the best policy when trying to get across facts and figures. There are five surefire ways for improving your

style today.

Project management thrives on team member buy-in. The quickest way to lose buy-in – or never generate it in the first place – is through mistrust. The mysterious trickle-down communication style is statistically tied to the development of employee distrust and discontent.

Even if your departmental culture currently thrives on this communication model, it is vital that you break away from the practice and model functioning and effective information-sharing styles instead. Sure, it might feel like swimming upstream for a while; once your success with a new strategy becomes evident, consider offering your expertise to the executive level and assist with making corporate culture changes accordingly.

Circular reporting” by Underpants/Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

Levels of communication” by SVilen, sxc.hu, royalty-free license

Why Trickle-Down Communication Should Not Define Your Project Management Style

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