Cultivating Productive Working Relationships For Project Managers

No two people are alike and nor do people do things exactly like.  Their needs, motivators, understandings and perspectives are as diverse as the world around us.  Sometimes this gets easily forgotten when you’re managing others and busy juggling multiple demands.  As well, it is easy to place your expectations and way of doing things onto others without fully understanding how you are perceived.

It is important to cultivate a productive working relationship.  And, as a Project Manager you will be working with many team members who don’t necessarily report to you directly. So it’s imperative to establish a productive relationship with everyone in order to gain focus on your projects.

To do this you need to build trust, create a respectful environment, be sensitive to others, as well as establish the right tone and atmosphere within your area or team.  This will also help reduce personality clashes, and in the end lead to higher productivity and satisfaction for everyone. Here are a few key suggestions to put to use:

  • Get to know everyone you work with on more of a personal level, especially the team members working on your projects.  Find out what motivates them, what they like or dislike in their daily jobs.  Different people are motivated by different aspects of the daily work.  For example, if a team member wants to participate in certain meetings or project activities in order to be more aware of the progress, try to accommodate that person.  Or, if another team member has to start her day early but leave at 3 PM to take care of her kids, it’s important to be understanding and flexible, and both of you find ways to work around the challenge on your project as much as possible.
  • Clearly review the roles and responsibilities with each team member.  If you work for an established and reputable organization, which has been managing projects for many years, chances are that roles and responsibilities have already been defined within company processes.  Review them with the team and make sure each team member knows what they are responsible for and understands how their part impacts the project or the organization as a whole.
  • Set up quarterly one-on-one sessions with each team member in order to hear their concerns and suggestions.  If you don’t, they will be talking about their concerns with others including their immediate supervisors, who might then be contacting yours.  So be proactive and address any issues head-on before they get escalated.  Each team member should understand that you are open to suggestions, and they can come directly to you if they have any issues or concerns.
  • Be respectful of others differences.  As our society becomes culturally diverse and our interactions with others around the world become easier and closer due to technological advances, it is vital we learn to cultivate productive working relationships with everyone.  Celebrate the differences and be open to learning something different.
  • Set the right tone and atmosphere. Be positive and lead by example. This helps to promote a comfortable and respectful environment, in which others feel free to openly communicate and share ideas, knowing they will be valued and seriously taken into consideration.

In a nutshell, being cognizant of everyone you are managing or working with allows you to better manage them and the project as a whole.  When you have control of the situation, you can better use your time to focus on the goals of your project and increase your overall productivity.