One of the most important prerequisites for building great professional relationships with team members and stakeholders is trust . Without trust it’s impossible for a project to function effectively as people are unlikely to open up, collaborate and follow someone who they feel they can’t rely on. Trust is essential for working together. Many team members and stakeholders have specialized jobs and responsibilities and the only way to collaborate effectively is to understand each other, which is the core of trust. For project and change managers a high-trust environment is particularly important, as the very nature of our job is to lead people through a period of high uncertainty and change. In addition we often interface with people who are more senior than us and who don’t report to us. As we can’t rely on hierarchical reporting lines to move things forward, we have to make use of our interpersonal skills and our ability to influence people in more subtle ways.
Congratulations if you have just landed a new role or a new project! Starting something new is exciting. It gives you the opportunity to implement all the good practices you know and rectify errors from the past. But as you set out to do so, be careful not to fall into a common trap of rushing to implement your ideas before you’ve got to know your new customer, the business and your team. Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Actively build relationships and trust In your new role you want to be seen as taking action and adding value from day one. That’s understandable. But producing a hurried project plan and quickly getting the team moving may not be the best use of your first days. Instead, you want to focus on getting to know the organization, your new client and the team – and resisting the temptation to kick off the project straight away.
One of the project leaders I interviewed for my recent book The Power of Project Leadership was Benoit Jolin. I first met Benoit when I facilitated a project leadership session for Expedia. I was taken aback by his insights and asked if I could interview him. Below is the full interview from a true project leader. Enjoy his insights. Which attributes, thinking patterns and actions would you say distinguish an outstanding project management leader, from an average project manager?
As you continue on your journey to become a better project manager and leader you may be considering which habits to kick and which habits to start embracing. But you are also aware that your good intentions – and new habits – may not stick. In order to create a new habit and achieve your goals, you have to change from the inside out. You have to take control of your internal world so that your thoughts and feelings can positively influence your outer reality. The best way to do that is to foster a positive and empowering mindset that will allow you to pursue your goals without hesitation. Let’s examine what this kind of empowering mindset looks like. I am in control and I choose my own responses The most empowering belief you can adapt is to know that you are in control and that you always have a choice. You choose your own beliefs, you choose what you want to focus on and you choose the decisions and the actions that you take. This is a very powerful belief system because it means that you take full responsibility for your actions without having to deflect blame onto others.
You are probably as familiar with the statistics of failing projects as I am. A study by The Economist and the PMI shows that only 56% of strategic initiatives are successful whereas according to other studies the success rate is far lower depending on sector. The House of Commons in the UK for instance have reported that only one third of major government projects are delivered to time and budget. Projects fail because of unclear scope and success criteria, lack of strategic alignment, lack of change management skills, underestimation, inadequate risk management, and lack of buy-in and engagement from project sponsors. Shockingly, PMI’s Pulse report shows that despite it being a top driver of project success, fewer than two in three projects have actively engaged sponsors. That’s alarming! I wonder how the situation might be improved if project managers had better relationship-building and influencing skills. The report also shows that organizations are losing an average of $109 million for every $1billion spent on projects due to lack of focus on people, processes and outcomes. And that is in spite of more tools and techniques being available that help us keep track of the many moving parts of a project.