A key component of creating sustainable and trusting client relationships is the demonstration of reliability.
A reliability reputation is a direct reflection of the project manager’s actions. Customers and team members prefer to have a project manager who is dependable – that is, consistent in performing project management duties. A project manager can undo their credibility quite quickly if he or she is not reliable and consistent.
Providing status reports with updates of the project’s progress, responding to clients’ emails and consistent management of project processes are a sure-fire way to create a consistent reputation as a project manager.
However reliability and the aforementioned ‘credibility’ described in “Managing Relationships – Part I”, are not the only ingredients for a friendly and trusting relationship with clients. Despite the efforts of the project manager, if the client’s impression of her is that she is inexperienced, or opportunistic, this will have a negative impact on the project and on the flexibility of the client. The project manager’s attitude, behaviours, and presentation all present cues that the client will interpret in different ways. They will assess the personality of the client manager and determine whether, deep down, they can really trust her.
A method to subvert any negative assumptions that the client may have is for the project manager to show that they sincerely care about the project’s success. If the client feels that the manager’s energies and her own hopes and goals are invested in the project, then he will feel more at peace leaving the project in her ‘trusting hands’.
Developing a personable relationship with the most important stakeholders of the project is very important. The key people will be able to put a face to a name, and if they agree with the motivations and their impression of the project manager, they will throw their supportive weight behind her and her decisions. In the event when the project may be quite large and require a dynamic set of labour and funding resources, this support will be invaluable to get things done. And to allow for ingenuity and innovation within a project, this support is absolutely essential for approvals.
Take the time to develop good relationships with the higher management involved with the project, it will reward you in spades down the track. Find opportunities to develop intimacy with key partners, but use sound judgement in this approach.
The best project managers realise that their agendas are linked to others’. Her checked egoism will regard all stakeholders on an equal footing, no matter what their level, and will see them all as an essential piece of the final puzzle of the project. Finding opportunities to praise team members in public, putting stakeholder’s interest above her own, expressing interdependent reliance on others for the success of the project and showing sincere appreciation of work done will all reflect her abilities as a responsible and credible manager. A good project manager does not simply assign tasks. She shares these tasks with team members – showing that they have the manager’s support behind them and that they are not just a cog in the wheel.
A successful project manager will hone their consultative leadership skills. They will listen first, then respond.