Even after the 5 stages of team formation, as project managers, we still find people not being able to work together well, ourselves included. We have to deal with sponsors, stakeholders, team members and C level management. There is no question that some people can get things accomplished, issues resolved much easier, more successful than others. Why is that? Why can’t I be like that? Maybe we should start thinking like an Investment Banker.
Beside the technical qualifications we possess, our job is essentially a people skill’s job. Everyday we think and manage both strategically and tactically how do we stroke the right ego, when to put on the velvet glove and show tough love. We negotiate everyday for resources, funding or time. Although I see that having the right negotiation skill is a primary trait, we still need a little more to ensure what we ask for, we get.
I have come to realize that going into a project is like going into a brand new business. You need to have capital in order to be successful. No, it is not the green buckaroos we need; but it’s what I call the ‘soft capital’. The more different soft capital you have, the more you are likely to succeed in your venture.
For my past experience, I have categorized these into 3 main types, namely:
1. Negotiation capital
2. Knowledge capital
3. Integrity capital
I think of each person (sponsors, stakeholders, support) related to the project as individual banks and I have 3 accounts with each of them namely the “Negotiation”, “Knowledge” and “Integrity” accounts. Each account will have a certain balance of the ‘soft capital’. I need to know when to deposit and when to withdraw from each account to get things done. What do I mean by that?
For example: When I ask a project technical lead to do something, he will think,
- Why should I do it for you? You are now looking at your “Negotiation” capital balance: is it a positive balance or negative balance in his bank. I will have a high rate of success when my balance is high. Every time he agrees, it’s a price I have to pay. I have found that to deposit or increase this balance can be easily achieve via qui pro quo.
- Can he answer my questions? This is your “Knowledge” capital: did you “deposit” into this account by doing your homework in advance.
- Can he deliver afterwards? If I have proven in the past that I have never failed to do what I promised to do with this person, my “integrity balance’ will be relatively high.
Going into a project kick off meeting, I have already evaluated my ‘financial’ portfolio mentally. After the kick off, I will have an idea which accounts need investment adjustments to improve my portfolio ROI inorder to ensure the project success. A “Poor” project manager will have a harder time during the life of the project, compare to a “Rich” project manager. Invest in building your relationship capital.. it will go a long way to your project success.
Author: Andrew Chan, PMP