Risk Factors in Communication Management

By Alexandria Loveless, Associate Project Manager at Starbucks

Alexandria Loveless
Alexandria Loveless

It is important for the project manager to understand the cultural differences within their team, department and organization. Cultural factors can create barriers within a team through verbal language, body language and written communications. This can include semantics and connotations, social conventions and nonverbal communication. The project manager needs to take the time to be aware of those around them and respectful of each team member in order to avoid causing cultural issues. This can be done by communicating diversity goals and expectations clearly to the team, not by setting out rules but by setting out the benefits for each individual and the company.


Gender factors can have an impact on communication styles as well. Men and women can complete the same job and task but may communicate the work differently. Male and female communication differences can consist of different styles and structure. Those two factors mixed with the stereotype that both men and women face can cause uncertainty in perception of what is being communicated. The project manager can practice inclusion not only with cultural differences but also with gender differences. This is important to do in as many communications as possible.


Personality factors are built on the human relationships between the project team and others within the office. These personality factors can be obvious such as raising your voice, disrespect, condescension, and intimidation. Personality factors, especially from the project manager, can have dramatic effects on the entire team and can be felt throughout the organization by setting the “organizational tone”. Project managers can seek those with different personalities to be a positive addition to the team by allowing them to be who they are which can allow free thinking and creativeness that can lead to thinking outside the box and problem solving during the project life cycle.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandria-loveless-709160121 


Project Communication Management & Leadership, Gray, Laron, Schneider, Dowd & De Janasz. (2015) McGraw Hill, 2015.

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare. The Six Factors of Communication Risk. May/June 2006.http://www.psqh.com/mayjun06/dunsb1.html.

Business Dictionary. Risk Communication. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/risk-communication.html.


The Benefits of Risk Management Planning

A risk management plan ensures that risks are managed properly. The goal is to reduce impact of negative risks and to increase the impact of opportunities. The risk management plan provides a tool for reporting risk to senior managements as well as the project sponsor and team.  The risk management plan does not identify projects risks.

A Risk management plan details how the team will manage risk (Newton, 2015). It describes the level of risk that is tolerable for the organization (Newton, 2015).  It ensures that the level of risk management is commensurate with the identified risks and the organization’s appetite for risk.


As a sub plan of the Project plan, the risk management plan includes the methodology that will be used to manage risk including the tools and data sources. It also identifies the owners of risks and what their responsibilities are to manage those risks. Budgeting for risk management is also included so that resources and funds are available to manage the risks. Risk categories are identified as well as definitions of risk probability and risk impact.  The plan may also describe the reporting formats that will be used in the project as well as the process of communicating risk to stakeholders. Risk management plans will also include a probability and impact matrix to assess impact on project objectives (Newton, 2015).

A risk management plan is developed early on in the project, but is reviewed and updated throughout the project.  The development of the risk management plan begins with looking at project assumptions including data, staffing, etc. (Kendrick, 2015). Risk identification is integrated into all the processes of the project to help uncover additional risks and to decrease the unknowns (Kendrick, 2015).  It is critical to review stakeholder tolerance for risk in the beginning of the project so that plans can be made to address the stakeholder need for precise estimates, clearly defined deliverables, and frequency of communication (Kendrick, 2015).

The risk management plan is integrated with other project management plans. It needs to be aligned with the other documents beginning with the project charter. Certain kinds of projects have specific kinds of risks associated with them.  The cost plan determines how risk may be carried into a project through budgeting, procurement and expenditure.  The schedule plan will highlight risk that is carried into a project because of tight timelines or the level/complexity of activities.   The communication plan has information about key stakeholders and their concerns about specific risks and the frequency with which they must be updated.

Defining risks is part of determining scope, budget and schedule.  Project managers need to be alert to risks that may be hidden or unknown as these processes unfold. In particular, risks can be found where there are knowledge gaps or incomplete data.  The risk management plan is integrated with all processes in the management of the project.

Planning For Risk Management



Kendrick, T. (2015). Identifying and managing project risk (3rd ed.). New York,

Newton, P. (2015).  Managing project risk. Retrieved from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com/dldebk-pdf/fme-project-risk.pdf