A key skill within project management is effective relationship management; I know some exceptional communicators and also know some who think they are exceptional communicators – unfortunately it is difficult to break through a hardened ego shell so this article is aimed at those who remain open minded to improving or honing their skill. Behaviours play a big part of relationship management and building – gaining respect doesn’t purely come from a shining track record of stellar delivery, it comes from a few factors:
- Respecting others – show interest in individuals and understand what their drivers are, listen to them and hold on to the information.
- Be genuine – we are all human, admit your mistakes and set your limits.
- Support others awareness of you, share interests and values.
- Demonstrate integrity – practice what you preach, roll your sleeves up and work with others.
Connect with others by listening, create a positive environment where you demonstrate a personal investment in the relationship, apply appropriate boundaries and gain a clear sense of what individuals are saying, build rapport and encourage others to listen in return.
When in a scenario you should look to apply the following:
- Acknowledge what is being said, register what is happening.
- Identify their intentions – what is it they hope to achieve.
- Review – consider the conversation and either respond there or give a time when you will be able to provide a response.
Always ensure conversations have a healthy balance of input and response, listen, offer support or solutions, listen, confirm understanding, listen, reflect and summarise. Make observations; provide feedback and/or opinions, challenge views, offer relevant examples/stories and advice. Don’t talk over others – let them have their say, but keep in control of the discussion.
Creative writing does not need to be fictional – in fact a good story teller should be able to apply a style to factual events to make them an interesting read. Some readers actually have a greater buy-in to pieces of literature which are true and this often makes for a larger following. As the web has grown into huge proportions and businesses are reliant on websites, Facebook pages and blogs to market their products it has become necessary for copywriters and content writers to look at different approaches.
Having a creative background albeit visually, I found quite early on in my degree that I could apply my abilities to written form – at first it was a lecturer who read one of my journals and said he liked my humorous approach to writing and from there I was encouraged to write more. I did this throughout my degree but when I left University I went on to forge a career in project management and found that a straight forward factually based style was required especially as I was dealing with a number of teams based across Europe so language barriers became an issue. However I believe that a more creative approach to writing presentations and particularly for workshops, the style can be much more engaging than stuffy communication.
It was when I started working for a project management recruitment agency that I found a balance between writing factual pieces of work and being creative – I was quite heavily involved in contributing to the company blog, newsletter, and I also wrote my job adverts for prospective candidates. I noticed the more inclusive a job advert was that I received a greater focussed set of applications for my jobs. By noting down key elements but also trying to give the reader a flavour of the organisation, I was starting to generate a great deal of interest. Talking through what they could receive in return for working at the organisation such as culture and making a mark, could easily make up for less competitive salaries.
The interest was not just from the prospective candidates but also other businesses who were particularly interested in my style and I was approached on countless occasions by head hunters. It is true to say that this style of writing has also proven very successful for my current business of professional CV writing – taking a bland piece of information and applying a creative slant to the document has struck a chord with my clients and employers. Bringing some personality to the CV and really painting a picture about the individual in regards to abilities, skills, management style and problem solving.
It just goes to show that you can apply your creative writing abilities to many aspects of work and making an extra effort can really help you get the message across… No more death by powerpoint!
Here’s your 7 step guide to reaching success when looking for a new job:
- Research – when you take the decision to start looking for a new role you really need to understand the industry and the roles you are applying for, make a start by looking at the types of roles you wish to apply for. Job descriptions and adverts are widely available online, by reading through them and understanding what is involved you will quickly identify the roles most relevant to you. Also spend some time researching the industries you wish to work in. Look at some of the larger corporate websites to gain a greater knowledge of what is hot at the moment as these will likely be the growth areas in that field. Start to match up your skill-set and exposure to relevant projects, make a note of these and use them as examples in your CV.
- Make a list – gather a list of the relevant role titles to your skill, and place in a spreadsheet to keep track of websites which yield good search results for them. As well as searching job boards, think about placing random searches into search engines as you will also bring up roles with direct employers too which you may have otherwise missed – a lot of employers will only advertise on their own websites.
- Focus – Ensure you are spending time on roles which you can meet a minimum of 90% of the criteria listed, this saves you wasting time on roles which you are unlikely to get into the short-list for and keeps your list down to a manageable size. It is important to streamline your applications so you can spend more time tweaking your CV and writing a cover letter for so you can yield more results. It is quality not quantity!
- Make another list – create another spreadsheet of roles you have applied to and through which websites, when etc. you need to be organised when you start receiving calls from HR / recruiters etc. it does make all the difference when you sound on the ball during these calls.
- Follow up – leave it a day or two after you make an application then call up the person handling your application. Check it has been received and offer to clarify anything further they may need to know. Round up the call by asking when you can expect to hear a response regarding your application – remain professional throughout, this includes speaking to receptionists etc. be friendly, clear, helpful and don’t let frustrations show. The person handling your application makes the decision whether to pass on your CV to clients/hiring managers so keep in mind they are testing you from the first point of application. Put yourself in their shoes – if you come across abrupt or desperate then they are highly unlikely to put your forward through fear of having their reputation soiled.