Why Building Relationships First is so Important

I was scrolling though my Twitter feed the other day when I ran across this post form PMI Mile Hi Chapter (@PMIMileHi)

Sometimes we neglect our most priceless asset — the project team. We focus too much on a project’s deliverables, timeline… #PM #PMP

This struck a chord with me. I was immediately compelled to quote it with this addition:

#PutPeopleFirst and watch the project succeed! #Leadership #PMOT #PMP

We see and hear things like this all the time, but why does this really matter? What is it about relationships that can make or break a project team? After all, these are professionals that have been hired to do a job, right? Well, the answer to that is, yes, but only for a time. If you don’t take the time to build the relationships with your team, they will find someone else, somewhere else, who will.

You see, we all have the desire to be appreciated, understood, and maybe even liked. What we don’t want is to be bossed around, micromanaged, and looked down on. As a project leader, or any leader for that matter, you have an opportunity to create a good working relationship with your team. If you do that, you will NOT be disappointed.

What do you do? How do you get there?

  • Make your open door policy is truly open door
  • Talk to your team – often – and in their environment
  • Plan team building outings – even low budget outings make a big difference
  • Introduce a little fun in the office every now and then
  • Show your appreciation when the team performs well – again, even low budget appreciation awards work

What you can expect

  • Even a team with low morale initially will start to transform
  • Attitudes will improve
  • Project performance will increase
  • Your team will become coachable
  • Your team will work harder than they ever have and will accomplish more than they thought was possible

What are some ways that you can show your team your appreciation? How do you relate to them? Please share some of your thoughts and success stories below.

Giving Your Contractor Goals: Why it’s a good idea

I have been in contract positions many times in my career and have been around even more. There has always been one thing consistent with all of those positions: contractors are never given goals. Why is that? Aren’t they part of the team? Now, I realize that there may be some HR or legal implications to treating a contract employee like a full-time employee, but there are great reasons to give them goals

Now, let’s define contractor for just a moment as there are several different types that could be considered. The notion of giving goals to contractors does not fit all contract types.

  • Consultant: This type of contractor is typically an expert in his field. It wouldn’t be appropriate to set a goal for this type of contract employee. In fact, consultants may be helping YOU set YOUR goals
  • Part-time / Short-term contractor: This contractor is usually an emergency fill-in intended to cover for an employee that may be out on extended leave or for a position that simply cannot have an empty spot. It would not be appropriate to give goals to someone who isn’t going to be here long enough to even write the goal down
  • Long-term, staff augmentation contractor: NOW we’re talking! This type of contractor is fully engrossed in your team. This person will be on your team for long periods of time, typically 3 to 6 to 12 months at a time or longer. This person will be in your data, in your systems, and in your meetings daily – and having an impact on the team, whether positively or negatively.

Here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to give your long-term contract employee goals:

  1. Ensures they are always on the same page with the rest of the team

If they are doing their job while marching to the beat of a different drummer, your “band” may get confused. When that happens, your team can fall apart and your full-time, permanent team members may start to wonder why that contract employee isn’t playing well with others.

  1. Gives them something to work towards

Believe it or not, long-term contract employees want to work on the same goals as the team. Giving them the team goals that have been set gives them a target to shoot for. In addition to the team goals, personal goals helps them to grow. Goals can give the contract employee a reason to stop and analyze his or her work to verify that it meets standards . . . or beats them! In addition, having leadership work with them on individual goals helps develop the contractor even further which is a benefit for everyone.

  1. Helps the team to get better

As you bring the contractor in closer to your team, you will start to see something amazing happen; they will actually become PART of the team and start striving to help everyone succeed.

Leaders can do themselves, their teams, and their contract employees a favor by treating everyone the same. Respect, discipline, and trust will all surface when you lead everyone towards the same common goal. Leaving the contract employees out draws a line between them and the permanent team members. This causes a disconnect and will slow the progress you are trying to make in developing your team.

Although you cannot “treat” contractors like employees with regard to some benefits and perks, you can continue to develop them. Developing your team members is an essential part of what leaders do. I would say it is the most essential part. Don’t leave out your contract personnel, they are on your team too.

What do you do to help develop your contractors?