Posts Tagged ‘giving first’

Project Leadership #4: Trust is bidirectional

by Himanshu Jhamb on January 10, 2011

There have been many a books written about TRUST. It is, without doubt, one of the most important assessments that we, as humans, make, usually internally and act on the basis of that. In the project management world, there are a number of levels at which the PM needs to establish trust, before s/he can make anything happen. A few key ones that are encountered day to day:

  • Trust with the Client
  • Trust with your Management
  • Trust with the Team

Now, trust is a funny thing. It has a way of following the age old adage – “What goes around, usually, comes around”. In other words, it is bidirectional. The tricky part about trust is that you cannot control when and how you’ll get it, no matter how hard you try. In fact, it is one of those unique things that you get, only by giving first!

Coming back to my three categories above:

TRUST with your CLIENT

Establishing trust with the CLIENT is to provide them with stellar service that sends a clear message that you CARE for them. It is not about appeasing them, but guiding them. Amateur Project Managers might shy away from guiding the client thinking “The client is always right”, Project leaders know that clients are humans, too, and that humans have this strange knack of “Not always being right”. In this knowing, Project Leaders are compassionate to their clients’ needs and also, their ignorance (Yes, clients can be ignorant – not a bad thing, if you are compassionate to their needs). Once the clients learn to observe and value this CARE, the ground is fertile for trust to bloom. Trust can be a beautiful thing. It lowers the cost of transacting with the client(s) manifolds. Project leaders who have experienced this know what I am talking about.

TRUST with your Management

Assuming that you work for someone, there is a set of folks who are as important to your career well-being as the client. Your Management team, that is, the people that you report to. Your Management team is your primary client – You could do a fabulous job for your company’s clients but not take care of the concerns of your own company; that’s when this distinction shows up in not so pleasant ways. You need to establish trust with your management so that you keep the cost of transacting with them low, as well. Here are a few ways of doing that:

  • Reporting status to them before asked for.
  • Making sure there are no to very little escalations in your project(s).
  • Running your project on time and within budget.
  • Being a hawk with scope on your projects.

These are all ways of taking care of the concerns of your management – and hence, the building blocks of trust with them. By now, I am sure you are getting the gist of this post: These actions are all about giving first… and in turn, you are rewarded with their TRUST.

TRUST with your Team

One of the most important and commonly overlooked aspects by project managers is establishing trust within your team. Again, it all starts with a declaration of CARE for your team. Project Leaders show this in a number of ways. My favorite is to make sure that when you make commitments to the client and put a plan together to deliver those commitments, you DO NOT plan on having your team work more than the regular workday. I have seen many a project plans where the team is slated to work 12-14 hours in a day for over 2 months at a stretch. Heck! I saw one in which the PM had the team working for 36 hours in a day! It is not surprising that morale is low in an overworked and underappreciated team. Another way is to be result-focused and not overly rules-focused. Unless you are working with a bunch of monkeys (highly unlikely – though, I have heard some folks call their teams that!), you need to take care of the human concerns of people. As long as you keep your head wrapped around results, and be flexible with everything else – you will be rewarded with TRUST. I have personally been bailed out of sticky situations by my team many a times, and have even had the team putting in extra hours to get stuff done on their personal time – WITHOUT being ASKED! It’s a wonderful thing when you see this on your projects… when things follow the path of least resistance and simply flow… bidirectional, like TRUST!

Have any stories that made your life really easy as a Project Manager, once you established TRUST? Do share!