5 communication tips to foster your relationship with your project manager

Communication is a skill marketers must master to thrive in the game. After all, learning about client’s needs, receiving feedback and delivering a viable project are all of these things take skilled communication. While most of us focus on how we communicate with clients, it’s equally important, if not more, to hone the communication skills with your project manager. Being skilled at communication is key as it allows you to complete projects with the expectations of your client and PM in mind. Of course, one does not need a Ph.D. in communication to become a communication guru. Speaking with Applicant Pro’s Director of Marketing, Heidi Barnett, we’ll talk about five communication tips to help create and sustain a well-oiled relationship with your PM.

Speak their language

In the workplace, everyone has his or her function. Marketers focus on the output and how it pertains to the client. Managers, however, focus on a plethora of things—including budget, project flow, productivity, and other managerial duties. While everyone has the same goal, which is to deliver an ace project to the client, each party is focusing on different optics. This means that the work languages are a tad different. In order to bridge that gap, marketers have to translate their speech into their manager’s language.

“Starting out, I realized that there were times I needed to get my bosses to sign off on certain changes,” explained Barnett. “In order for them to understand my needs, I had to speak it in terms that they understood. I learned to get what I needed by explaining to them how it impacted matters they focused on. In doing so, I was able to move the needle.”

Practice open communication

Communicating with senior people in the workplace can feel challenging. You may experience vulnerability or apprehension when having to go to a manager with a complaint or issues that need to be addressed. That said, it’s better to get it out in the open rather than sweeping it under the rug, which is why open communication is so important. For example, your manager can address and assist in finding a solution to a situation, which ultimately makes your job that much easier. Conversely if left unhandled, the manager could be oblivious to problems that may leave you feeling uncertain about your job.

“Don’t be afraid to be a bit vulnerable. Honesty is incredibly important and so is acknowledging the human side of the workplace. It allows people to see you in a different light, helping to solve problems, while keeping the conversation open.”

Active listening

Open communication is only the beginning. Once you’ve started the dialogue, you have to utilize active listening. Active listening is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. Not only are you fully listening, but you also provide verbal and non-verbal indicators to signify that the message was received.

“When receiving assignments from a manager, I would parrot back what was expected of me to make sure I was on the same page,” explained Barnett. “This helped to ensure that I was working on what was being asked of me.”

Receiving feedback

In the marketing realm, feedback is critical. Whether it’s occurring when you’re collaborating with your team, or you are receiving an evaluation from your PM — how you handle that feedback is perhaps the most important step of all.

Marketing is part art and part science. Some projects contain an emotional investment, as does your role in the company. It can feel disheartening to receive constructive criticism, but it’s all about how you roll with it. If you’re strategic, you can take the constructive feedback and use it to advance your performance

“Starting out, I had to pitch quite a bit. In the beginning, my pitches were getting rejected regularly. At first, it was tough to handle, as it felt like a rejected pitch meant my managers didn’t like me. It wasn’t until I took a step back and changed my pitch approach. I began to tailor my pitches more appropriately and the feedback was phenomenal. It was in that moment, I realized feedback isn’t personal, but rather a tool my manager used to make me better.”

Provide feedback

Managers aren’t perfect, and communication is a two-way street. In order for anyone to improve, they need to receive feedback. Just like openly communicating, providing feedback to your PM and leadership allows them to improve on things you cannot on your own. More to the point, it keeps everyone adept of the work climate while making sure that you’re all on the same page.

“I had a manager that would only give me feedback in the form of constructive criticism. So, whenever he needed to speak with me, I had a sense of dread because I knew it was something that I did wrong. Now that I’m on the other side, I try to tailor my feedback for my team to include both positive and constructive insight. In doing so, I find that my team is empowered to give me feedback, which is great because it helps me make their jobs more efficient while keeping them satisfied in their roles. Feedback is an important tool for me to gauge how well my department is running.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Communication is a skill that requires practice. That said, it’s a key skill to have in the sense that it improves the relationship with your leaders significantly. Practices these tips to up your game at your job. Your career and job satisfaction will thank you for it.

Post by Taryn Barnes

Taryn Barnes is a freelance writer and journalist. She writes about HR Tech and the evolution of the workplace and has written on workforce trends for Forbes and Workforce Magazine.