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Continue: Become a superb project manager! (Part 3)

Use relationship management to build positive relationships between teams and stakeholders.

Project managers have to build relationships more often and more quickly than most people do. That’s why relationship management is crucial!

Relationship management has two key components: establishing stakeholder relationships and developing others.

There are four steps to establishing strong stakeholder relationships:

First, identify the project stakeholders, anyone who affects or is affected by the project: the team members, vendors, sponsors and so on.

Next, gather as much information as you can about them. What role does each stakeholder play? What are their goals and interests? How do they communicate?

After that, develop relationship strategies for them. Figure out what your most effective relationship with them would be and start working toward it.

Finally, keep managing the relationship – it’s an ongoing process. Check regularly that things are going well and your relationships are producing the results you want. You might do this by establishing regular meetings to check up on how everyone feels.

The second part of relationship management is developing your team members. That means acknowledging and commending their strengths, mentoring them and providing them with useful feedback.

Developing others is ultimately a form of investing in the project team. So, first off, acknowledge their strengths: make them aware of their potential and always say “thank you” when they contribute to the project.

Next, give them targeted feedback. Targeted feedback is clear, objective and aimed at helping the person improve, not at putting them down. So don’t emphasize someone’s laziness; instead, focus on where they could improve. It’s always better to talk about what could make someone’s performance better, as opposed to what made it bad. 

Finally, never stop mentoring and coaching your team members. Offer advice and encouragement whenever you can. Make sure they feel that they can always talk to you and that you’ll listen to what they have to say.

Use your emotions to successfully lead your team.

The final aspect of emotional intelligence for project managers is team leadership. Team leadership is the ability to lead the project team toward their goals in a healthy and effective way. It’s how you overcome conflicts and keep everyone on track.

Communication and conflict management are the two most important skills here.

Positive communication allows you to set the right emotional tone in all exchanges. It’s a big part of your job as a project manager, whether you’re communicating with stakeholders, team members, in an interview or over lunch.

Project managers have to communicate in a way that creates the right emotional atmosphere and avoids any feelings of negativity.

Imagine you’re about to hire new staff, for example, and you’re nervous about conducting the interviews. If you don’t come to terms with your fear, it could cause you to overlook the right candidate or hire one that isn’t right for the position.

Instead of succumbing to fear, create a comfortable setting and approach your interviewees with empathy. Look for cues about what they’re feeling and share your own emotions when appropriate. Afterward, be sure to ask them how they felt about the exchange.

Emotional intelligence will also help you manage any conflicts that arise. That’s where skills like compromising come in. Compromising means solving the problem by openly discussing it and getting both sides to give up some of their demands.

You need to be self-aware and manage your own emotions in order to hold a truly open discussion; if you’re not, your emotions might take over. You also need to listen em-pathetically and communicate carefully with everyone involved. Compromising requires a lot of emotional intelligence!

Emotional intelligence is important for everyone. But it’s especially important for project managers, as their job rests on human communication and solid connections with others. So work on your self-awareness, manage yourself and your different relationships and listen em-pathetically to your team and stakeholders. Emotional intelligence doesn’t just make the workplace more pleasant; it gives you a competitive edge and helps you work toward your goals, too!

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