Over the last few months we have discussed the application of emotional intelligence (EQ) to project management including the EQ domains of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, and Social-Awareness. The next domain I would like to tackle is Relationship Management. Relationship Management is to Social Awareness what Self-Management is to self awareness. It is about using our understanding of others to build relationships with them.
The emotional intelligence framework for project managers is shown below. The arrow in the diagram shows our progress through the domains. The arrow is also intended to show that the Relationship Management domain builds on the first three EQ domains. In other words, our success in relationship management is going to be a function of our succes in self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness.
What does relationship management have to do with project managers? Most people would agree that relationships are the bedrock of life, business, and even projects. Relationships are especially critical to project managers for the following reasons:
- Projects are a Team Effort. Remember that Project Management is getting work done through others. Getting work done generally requires a team. The success of the team is going to be largely a result of the strength of the relationships. (Note: I don’t believe in the concept of a team of one, where the PM is also the lead resource. A team of one can accomplish some things, but little of significance can be accomplished alone.)
- PMs often lack direct authority. As compared to most managers and leaders, Project Managers are often in the position of having to lead without direct authority. To be effective, they have to rely on more than positional power and authority to get others to accomplish what is needed.
- PMs need to negotiate. PMs often need to negotiate to get what they need or to help parties reach agreement. PMs that use relationship management to understand the emotions, wants and needs of others will become more effiective negotiators.
- PMs are communicators. In the project environment, the PM is often the center of communications. They will typically have the most information about the project, and often are the one with the most complete picture. I liken the PM to being the center hub in a hub and spoke system. Having great information is goign to be a function of the relationships that the project manager has on the project. For a discussion of PMs as communicators, see the post in my IT project management blog.
That is not to say that relationship management is easy for project managers. In fact, the temporary nature of projects makes relationship building a challenge. Why should we invest in relationships on the team if this team and the project are temporary?
We are going to explore the topic of Relationship Management for Project Managers over the next few posts including:
- What the Experts Say about Relationship Management
- The PM Framework for Relationship Management – Stakeholder Relationships and Telling the Truth
- The role of your Family of Origin in Relationship Management
- Principles of Relationship Management
- Techniques for Improving your Relationships Management on Projects