Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person before? Of course you have, we’ve all been there. How much did you want to do with that person? How far were you willing to bend for that person? If you’re like me, I’m guessing no farther than you had to.
Our professional and personal lives are centered on building and nurturing those positive relationships. Often times we underestimate the impact how much building a good rapport with someone in a professional setting has on our objectives. In cases where a project sponsor and a project manager are paired up (large organizations have this all the time), the two are essentially forced to work together for the sake of the project. Often times the project manager may take for granted the fact that they should (or need to) focus on building and fostering a positive working relationship with their sponsor. Conversely, the project sponsor may not feel the need to cultivate a good working relationship with the project manager (what’s in it for them, right?).
These attitudes couldn’t be worse in terms of setting a good course for the success of the project. As I’ve harped on many times in previous posts, good communications are the lifeblood of any successful project and the key to establishing solid lines of communications is fostering those positive relationships between the stakeholders. You don’t have to be best friends but it does pay off to learn a little more about the other one, even some personal interests that may help strike a bond between you. Having something in common goes a long way in terms of being able to help navigate through tough times on a project (and there will be some as there are in any project).
Having those positive relationships to fall back on provides a bit of a safety net in terms of being able to more easily broach difficult issues that would otherwise be incredibly uncomfortable to discuss (ex. Budget increases or schedule extensions). Building those relationships sets a foundation of trust which as we all know is very difficult to obtain but incredibly easy to lose.
Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all rely on some sort of network both personally and professionally. The heart of that network is our ability to build and maintain positive relationships. Understanding what it is that makes us important to the other person is just as significant as understanding what makes them important to us.