16 Feb 2021

4 ways to enhance your project relationships

Career, Soft Skills
4 ways to enhance your project relationships

The practical or hard skills of project management, such as data collection and management, risk management, budgeting, and scheduling and so on, are often the focus of the project manager’s early development. 

But as you build a career in project management it becomes clear that the skills that matter equally, are those that help you engage with, motivate and inspire your fellow humans.
 

Motivate your project team with our Foundations in Project Leadership workshop


Here are four important behavioural skills that often get overlooked:
 

1. STORYTELLING 

It’s easy to think of projects as just a series of tasks that need to be completed to reach an organisational goal. Any good project professional knows this to be far from the truth and that inspiring and motivating stakeholders is the key to a project’s success.
 
Being able to paint a picture as to why a project is important and what it can mean for both stakeholders and an organisation is fundamental to getting everybody onboard and committed to putting in the required effort and achieving the organisation’s goals.

 



 

2. DIVERSITY TRAINING 

It’s never been more important to create respectful and inclusive work environments. Creating a culture of inclusion that welcomes ethnicities, genders, ages and abilities allows for a safe space for team members to do their best work and fosters empathy for stakeholders.
 
More than ever before, we work in multi-cultural environments where diversity and difference are acknowledged and often celebrated. For the project manager - this should be seen as an opportunity. Different perspectives and creative approaches thrive in diverse environments. So, it pays to take the time to consider how to be mindful of the perspectives and backgrounds your stakeholders come from.

 

3. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 

Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularise the concept, there are five key elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness; self-regulation; motivation; empathy; and social skills.

“One of the key benefits around employing emotional intelligence (EI) project management is the ability to build trust and communicate effectively with your stakeholders,” says Linda Simonsen, CEO of Kleu. Her team runs a professional development program designed to increase the EI of leaders and employees and deepen organisational engagement.
 
“Leaders with high EI have highly engaged teams that are 20-50% more productive than teams lower on the engagement scale”, says Linda. “Highly engaged teams collaborate and innovate better. Emotional intelligence also supports change agility and resilience.” When you utilise EI it requires looking at the world in a different way and that increases awareness of what drives different behaviours.



 

4. NEGOTIATION 

At its core, project management is centred on how you handle limits. For example, you need to make change in a limited time, with limited money by following set requirements. These limits are usually set by other people and from time to time the project manager might have to adjust these boundaries for the benefit of the project.
 
Most project managers quickly develop basic negotiation skills when engaging with stakeholders, but specific educational training can sharpen your ability to diffuse conflict and remove barriers to success. Improving your listening and information-gathering skills, as well as seeking out win-wins will lead to better long-term relationships, which ultimately leads to more motivated and satisfied stakeholders.
 
All of us have some ability to tell stories, be sensitive to diversity, exhibit emotional intelligence and negotiate. They are essential to being human. But as project management professionals it is worth taking the time to develop and practice these skills further. At their core, they all relate to how you engage with your fellow humans. So, spending time on them will enhance your inter-personal relationships and make for a more satisfying and positive project environment.


Want to learn how to build your leadership skills for the role of a Project Manager? Download our Foundations in Project Leadership course guide



Project leadership foundations