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Productivity - Tue Apr 19 2022

How to Communicate Effectively with your Direct Reports as a PM or Leader

As a project manager, you learn that communication is the root of an effective leader, successful team, and prosperous projects. You can't solve problems and come to solutions without communicating with others. Therefore, understanding your team, client, and goals is essential to your job as a PM at every stage of a project.

Why Communication Matters

Communication skills are highly valuable to leadership. It can make or break teams and projects. Without it, you'll just be standing in the dark trying to understand which direction you should go.


However, it doesn't need to be this way. As a project leader, you must step up to the plate and lead where you need to. And communication is one place where you can encourage transparency and create an inclusive work environment. 

When you are an inclusive leader, you understand that you may need others to see things differently than you to provide more perspectives and a wider view of any given situation. We mostly see things from our viewpoint, so having various people with different ideas and thoughts promotes creative thought, problem-solving, innovation, and collaboration among other members of the team. 

The Positive Impact of Direct Reports

As a software developer, there are many situations you may find yourself in during a project. Development has processes, and each process requires everyone to be on one accord in what needs to be done, why, and when.

The development team is juggling design, coding, testing, etc., all with one another while communicating with the managers and the manager communicating with the client. Therefore it is beneficial to have a direct report who can aid in communicating with the rest of the team.

Direct reports should be aware of the team's objectives. You can then both work together to make sure projects are assigned to the proper employees and that assignments are completed on time.


Even though you are their superior, you should consider your direct reports as your teammates and promote an open dialogue for a more effective work environment. Effective communication is a two-way street in that each party must make an effort to communicate with one another. 

How Direct Reports Add Value to Communication Efforts 

Direct reports act as right-hand representatives for superiors. They may also have direct reports they manage and may even hold higher positions.

This type of structure and management style allows more effective communication between other parts of an organizational structure. Still, it can only be done if the communication chain is working effectively. 

That can be accomplished by providing your report with the information and resources they need to do their part. You can also make time to ask them if there is anything they may need from you or if they have any questions or concerns. Sometimes direct reports may feel as though you aren’t open to suggestions, but if you approach them they can know that you are available to help them find answers to issues they may be facing. You can also set aside time for you both to brainstorm ideas and plan out your approaches to the projects you are currently working on. 

It’s important to speak with them often. Get feedback from them on where they may see improvements, not only in team performance but yours as well. It's also advisable to have one-on-one meetings with them to learn their goals and provide constructive feedback. 

They are your direct link to better connect with the rest of your software developers. Maintaining honest and constructive feedback helps your direct reports understand their overall value and contribution to the projects. When your team feels useful and heard, they can be more motivated to perform well in their role.

Invite Open Team Communication

Part of being a project manager is taking the time to listen to your team and make improvements in a way that is beneficial to team growth, learning, and success. 


When talking about leadership and the soft skills you should have, empathic listening is high on the list. That's because when it comes to communication, you have to be able to listen to others as well.

And in the case of communication, listening may be even more important than getting your point across. 

As a senior programmer taking an open stance to communication will ensure that direct reports always feel comfortable approaching you with questions or concerns and understand the tasks they are asked to perform. 

Strive to Improve Communication

As you grow in your leadership position as a project manager or senior programmer, you will better understand how pivotal communication with your direct reports can be for your team's success. 

It's not a one-sided process and requires work from each person to make communication simple, honest, and constructive. Moreover, a lot can be gained when communication is effective between managers and their direct reports. It improves team culture, collaboration, and motivation to produce successful projects. And that in itself builds value and trust among your teams




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