Types of communication
Communicating amongst project stakeholders comes in several types and forms. Literature acknowledges four main types of communication, namely intrapersonal, interpersonal, mass and group communication. These communication types can take the form of verbal communication to exchange ideas and information at meetings, conferences or through telephone conversations (Perumal & Abu Bakar, 2011). Perumal and Abu Bakar (2011) further describe the other form of communicationas non-verbal, thus written communication through handwritten or computer output, reports, pictures, emails and minutes. Communication can also take the form of internal or external communication (Perumal & Abu Bakar, 2011).
Communication does not just happen; there are established communication channels for different fields. In contract administration, information flows to some stakeholders are limited or may not even have a formal communication channel. The M&E information is also released based on the level of involvement of the stakeholder. Donor agencies who have an interest in the overall project success are predisposed to cost data of the project, just as beneficiary stakeholders are interested in the completion of the project on time. For monitoring to achieve its aim of participation and accountability, information such as project deliverables, client expectation and contract summary should well be communicated to all teams and stakeholders (Lohiya, 2010). Also, barriers to information flow must be eliminated even though particular interests may exist. Thus, all stakeholders must have an equal opportunity to any information they require on the project.
Intrapersonal communication describes the type of communication within oneself or each stakeholder. In project M&E, however, this form of communication can be described as communication within each identified stakeholder. This is seen in the communication among the quantity-surveying team or the architectural department or generally within the project consultants as a unique stakeholder in the project. It is essential for categories of stakeholders such as the quantity-surveying team to communicate internally among themselves in dealing with cost-related matters in the M&E process. The same can be said for the architectural and the engineering units.
Interpersonal communication refers to information transfer between two people. Dainty et al. (2006) posit that this type of communication is typically subjective in nature and value-laden. Though all stakeholders are involved in project implementation, Tengan and Aigbavboa (2017) argue that their involvement in M&E is limited to the three core stakeholders who have interest and influence in the project; thus, consultant, contractor and client. Interpersonal communication provides a face-to-face interaction between stakeholders and enables understanding, stimulates the sharing of expert knowledge and encourages team building (Otter & Emmitt, 2008). Project stakeholders communicate with each other by providing project information and receiving the same from them. Otter and Emmitt (2008) further indicate that interpersonal communication affords stakeholders the opportunity for understanding since multiple meanings could be derived from the non-verbal gestures such as body language to support the verbal acts. Established communication between the project manager and the client is an example of an interpersonal communication. This is also seen in instructions
Aspects of communication in monitoring 91 issued to contractors or the progress report submitted to the client by the project manager. This type of communication is the most frequent in the M&.E of construction projects.
Mass communication is described as an interaction between a large, heterogeneous, assorted and anonymous audience. The number of the audience involved in this communication is not known and involves types of people, there is no limitation in geographical location and communicators are not known in person at all. Therefore, there is the need for a communication channel that produces and transmits information to such large audience. Mass communication takes the form of three major categories based on its physical form; print media (magazines, periodicals and books), electronic (radio and television) and digital media like Internet facilities. In the day-to-day implementation of the project (M&.E) beyond communication within specific stakeholders or among stakeholders, some information is very relevant to the public and visitors to the project site or location. Communicating safety measures, for instance, is crucial for passers-by who may not be known or expected. If project activities affect the general public such as in the case of the maintenance of a major bridge, it would be imperative to communicate alternative routes to the public at large to avoid accidents occurring.
Group communication, also referred to as team communication, refers to communication that ensues between three or more people or project stakeholders with a common goal or objective. This communication occurs in a unique or defined group. This takes the form of face-to-face communication or with the aid of computer applications such as Skype. It provides an opportunity for all stakeholders, namely the contractor, sub-contractor, client, consultant, local service authorities, implementation organization and beneficiary community representation to receive or provide necessary information on the state of project implementation and to collectively make decisions. In a project environment, this type of communication is envisaged during site meetings where the work of all stakeholders, particularly that of the contractor and sub-contractor (nominated), is closely scrutinized to ensure adherence to project specifications.