People’s career paths can take them from company to company, or from team to team. When an experienced project manager is new to a team or a company, there are some small things that they can do to help transition and make the project a success. Here are our top 4 tips:
1. Identify your key stakeholders and build a relationship with them.
As you know, a stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in the success of your project. Critical stakeholders determine the success of your project; they can be roadblocks, champions, or anything in between. Get to know them, build a relationship with them, and listen to them.
Pay attention to what’s in your stakeholder’s office whether you are there in person or online. Actively listen to what they talk about when it isn’t work. This information will tell you things they like, don’t like, hobbies, or any number of topics you can talk about that isn’t work. People like working with people they can relate to. The key to building good working relationships is communication. If you can relate with them on topics not related to your project, it will make your stakeholders feel more comfortable working with you.
Remember that communication is a two-way street; be sure to let the other person speak without talking over them. This may sound like a no-brainer, but this can be difficult when video conferencing. When you are attentive to this issue, you will be appreciated.
2. Respect personal time.
A lot of project managers schedule meetings during lunch or other personal appointments – don’t do that. Respect your team’s personal time, and they will be much happier working with you, which turns into easier relationship building.
Learn your key stakeholders’ regular schedules. Don’t stalk them, that’s weird and inappropriate. But do pay attention to when they come online, or if you work in an office with them, learn when they come in, when they usually take lunch, and when they leave. Leave them alone during these times – you do not want to get between your key stakeholders and their personal time.
When you authentically learn your stakeholders’ routines and habits, you may pick up on their interests and tastes, which will aid in communication and building a relationship.
3. Learn their communication style.
Ask your stakeholders how they prefer to be communicated with and do that. Communication is a two-way street; just because you like to communicate one way, doesn’t mean it is most affective with your stakeholders.
Take email as an example, we all use it. Most hate it, but if you use email exclusively, sure, you’ll have a record of what was said, but you miss out on all the other inputs and outputs other forms of communication have to offer. Think about how communication that is only by email can make the other person feel; are they bombarded, disconnected, or do they just ignore you?
Sometimes it is just better to pick up the phone, meet someone in person, or do a video chat. Video and phone conversations are not my preferred forms of communication, but it’s important for the other party to be comfortable in their communications too.
4. Follow up.
If you have a conversation with someone, follow up with an email. It helps everyone to have the same basic understanding of the conversation and next steps. Follow-up helps to build trust with your team members and to keep things moving when everyone is busy.
Even though a project manager might have extensive experience, being new to a company or team may seem like starting all over. Our quick tips will hopefully make that transition time shorter so you can get on with what you do best – leading a project to a successful completion.