It is important for project managers to develop a competency in maintaining trustworthy relationships with key stakeholders. These relationships can entail a certain amount of risk, and often consume a lot of time and energy.
In their seminal text, “The Trusted Advisor”, Maister, Green & Galford argue that an effective account manager must demonstrate,
“credibility, reliability, intimacy and a low concern for self.”
These relationships develop over time, not only requiring a certain level of decorum and enthusiasm from the client manager, or project manager, but also the ability to deliver quality products to deadlines and the ability to reach your client’s expectations as best as possible.
What are the benefits of maintaining trusted relationships?
If you are trusted by stakeholders, they will begin to seek your advice and be more inclined to follow your recommendations before, during and after the project. As you become involved in more projects, these will become more strategic initiatives with greater visibility and reward. Your firm track record will mean that if you make a mistake when taking a risk, your stakeholders will forgive you more readily and make sure that you are involved in the project as early on as possible to pre-design the strategy and to serve as a major architect of the project plan.
The First Step in developing good relationships with your project team and customers is to prove that you can deliver. Coming to the project with a firm reputation of past achievements and experience demonstrates to your stakeholders that they can trust you with their project. Your team will recognise your project management expertise, including your technical competence and knowledge of the business, as they work with you. These core abilities and confidence will ensure that you receive the respect and commitment necessary from your team to drive the project forward. The loyalty and enthusiasm of your team is absolutely necessary if you wish to efficiently manage your project and deliver stunning results.
Key aspects to ensuring the team’s active engagement with the project include articulating the scope and business risks clearly to your team, and asking for their opinion and insights early on. Involving your team in the decision making process means that they will assume their assigned tasks with pride. Each of them will take on the responsibility to deliver their work as a matter of their reputation – as opposed to a blind task that they were assigned to complete on a deadline.
An understanding of the background of the project for all team members will also make the role of the project manager in defining, tracking, updating and reporting the costs of the project easier and with greater accuracy. A firm and trusting relationship with team members will make it easier for staff to admit their mistakes or concerns early on in the project, allowing the manager to address the issue, before it adversely affects the whole project.