New research posted on Harvard Business School’s website offers insight on communicating and working more effectively — even when you’re a manager lacking direct control over a project.

Managers who communicate persistently and redundantly, on purpose, move projects forward more quickly and smoothly than those who don’t. The frequency of the messages matters most, according to the study by Tsedal Neeley, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and Northwestern University’s Paul M. Leonardi and Elizabeth M. Gerber.

Power plays a big role in how managers under pressure communicate:

“Those without power were much more strategic, much more thoughtful about greasing the wheel,” Neeley says, to get buy-in and reinforce the urgency of the previous communication. “Managers without authority enroll others to make sense of an issue together and go for a solution.”

And, Neeley notes, “a lack of direct power is common in companies today because so many people work on teams that form and disband on a project-by-project basis. Yet team leaders are still on the hook to achieve their business imperatives despite this absence of authority.”

Some other strong messages to take away from the study?

  • Project managers lacking direct authority work harder at communicating, enlisting support from team members. They time first and second messages close together, typically starting with a phone call or face-to-face meeting followed up by an e-mail.
  • Managers with power delay communication, typically sending an e-mail, assuming it’s enough to pressure employees to do the job—only to find themselves later scrambling to do damage control.
  • Managers with and without power met deadlines and budget goals with the same frequency, regardless of communication strategy. But managers without power got employees to move more quickly, with less mop up needed.

Organization Science will publish How Managers Use Multiple Media: Discrepant Events, Power and Timing in Redundant Communication