Relationship Management in Projects

Want a thriving business?
We suggest you might focus on developing relationship management and project management soft skills 

We often think that project management involves huge teams completing complex pieces of work with a project manager at the helm controlling everything.

The truth is that almost all tasks we complete in business are projects.
Projects can be small as a few members of staff updating a company website or as large as hundreds employees in a computer company launching a new tablet.

Another common misconception is that projects must have an external customer.
Giving a presentation to a group of colleagues or writing a report for your boss are examples of projects with an internal customer.

Today our jobs are more challenging than ever. We have a constantly growing list of tasks to complete.
As a result, an increasing number of people are finding themselves in the project manager role.
This role is to develop relationships of trust with the players in the project

So what can we learn from the world of project managers that can help us successfully deliver results for our businesses?

Defining the Project Scope

Firstly, the project manager must define the scope of the project. Projects have definite time, cost and quality requirements.
The project manager needs to know what the customer wants.
Then the PM must find the right people with the best skills to complete the project to the time, cost and quality requirements.

Building Strong Relationships

Building strong relationships are vital for successful project management.
Although project managers are responsible for delivering work, they don’t necessarily complete it themselves. They need help from other people with different specialisms.
In the case of an advertising campaign, the project manager will oversee work from several different specialists, including market researchers, graphic designers and copywriters.

In most cases, junior managers who coordinate project don’t have authority over these specialists.
They can’t demand that other team members complete tasks. Indeed in large multi-national companies the PM might never meet the people they are working with.
Therefore, PMs need to build high trust relationships so they can rely on other team members to complete important project work.
Achieving Results with the Strength Deployment Inventory

The Strength Deployment Inventory is a life inventory based on relationship awareness theory.
It helps project managers build effective relationships with other team members and succeed in business.
The SDI allows project managers to achieve business goals by understanding others perspectives and resolving conflicts that affect relationships.

PMs and Client facing managers learn to identify what gives them a sense of self-worth and what’s important to them in their relationships with others. The SDI teaches project managers how to connect quickly and easily with other team members. By understanding others motivational value systems, project managers can learn to avoid conflict, coordinate other team members’ work and complete projects successfully.

Developing Relationship and Project Management Skills

Rainmaker Project Management Soft Skill Training teaches project managers the skills they need to motivate their teams.
PMs learn and practice the Strength Deployment Inventory in a safe environment.
Participants gain practical experience by working with a team of business actors who play the part of difficult and demanding clients

Workshops are tailored-made to delegates’ needs. Rainmaker offers three levels of project management training.
Programme highlights include conflict and relationship management, questioning and listening skills and how to turbo charge projects.

Efficient project management leads to a more engaged and productive workforce, enabling companies to win new customers and increase profitability.

Ask us for more details about how Rainmaker Project Management and Relationship Management Soft Skills Training can help you achieve real results in your business.

Interviewer Skills Training: The Rainmaker Guide to Interview Planning

From Carol Brennan our Guest Blogger:
Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and blogger who works with professional coaching and training companies

Interviewing isn’t just stressful for job applicants, but interviewers as well.
If you’re nervous, you’re more likely to make mistakes such as asking the wrong questions, spending too long talking about yourself or even losing control of the interview.

Creating a detailed interview plan gives you confidence and helps you stay on track.
This is especially important if you’re interviewing several candidates on the same day.
Following an interview plan also ensures that each candidate is treated fairly and consistently.
By ensuring all applicants go through the same process, you can easily compare their performances and select the best person for the job.

 How to Plan an Interview

Make sure all the practical arrangements are in place well in advance such as scheduling interview times with the candidates and booking a quiet room to hold the interviews.
Arrange to have at least one other member of staff conduct the interviews with you so you’ll get another perspective on the candidates’ performances.

Create your interview plan by dividing the interview into the following stages:

 1. Meet and Greet

The meet and greet sets the tone of the interview.
You can help the candidate feel relaxed by welcoming them at reception, thanking them for attending and offering them a drink. Put them at ease by asking them about their journey.

 2. Opening

Take the candidate into the room and introduce them to the other interviewers.
Explain that this will be a competency-based interview and you’ll give them time to think about their answers. Tell them how long each stage of the interview will last and when they’ll have an opportunity to ask questions.

 3. Motivational-Fit Questions

Create a list of questions you’ll ask the candidates based on the job description and person specification. Start with motivational-fit questions.
Motivational-fit questions help you determine whether the candidate’s values aligns with the company’s. Ask the candidate to provide evidence from their past experience that they have the required values. For example, if you decide integrity is important you might ask, “Tell us about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem that challenged fairness or ethical issues?”

 4. Competency-Based Questions

After you’ve asked the relevant motivational fit questions, move on to competency-based questions. Asking competency-based questions should take up 75% of the interview time.

Read the job profile again to identify core competencies that the successful applicant must have. For example, if you decided that decision-making skills are important, your question might be, “Tell us about a time when you had to be decisive on an issue?”.
Ask the candidate follow-up questions and take detailed notes throughout.

Devise a scoring system so you can easily compare the applicants’ answers.

5. Job and Organisation Information

Pre-prepare a sheet as a prompt to give the candidate information about the organisation and job. Focusing on the company’s successes and the positive aspects of working there will help you sell the job to the applicant.

 6. Candidate Questions

Invite the candidate to ask you questions. Make sure you are prepared to answer questions on what you are looking for in your ideal candidate and job details such as salary, responsibilities and prospects for promotion.

 7. Next Steps

Explain the next stages in the process to the candidate, including when and how you will inform them of the outcome. Finally, take the candidate back to reception and thank them for coming.

 Rainmaker Interviewer Skills Training Course

 Rainmaker Interviewer Skills and Recruitment Training Workshop teaches you step-by-step how to build an effective interview plan, so you’ll feel confident and hire the best candidate for the job.

How do you plan interviews?

Let us know

Interviewer Skills Training: The Quick and Easy Way to Write Effective Job Profiles

(Written by Carol Brennan ) our Guest Blogger
Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and blogger who works with professional coaching and training companies

Improving employee retention rates will dramatically reduce your company’s outgoings.
Before they applied the Rainmaker techniques, many of our clients were losing up to 40% of their new hires in the first six months. These losses often run into ten of thousands of pounds.
Costs include job advertising and investment in induction and training. It’s not just money; recruitment staff waste many hours writing job profiles and interviewing applicants.

So how can you avoid unnecessary costs and quickly find your ideal candidate?

We think it starts with writing a clear job profile.

Why Write a Job Profile

Think of the job profile as a blueprint for your recruitment and selection process, a map to guide you to your ideal candidate. Although writing a detailed job profile takes time, it’s worth making the effort to avoid repeating the same process a few months later. A well-written job profile will help you attract highly motivated candidates who not only perform their jobs well but will also have excellent time-keeping and attendance records.

How to Write a Job Profile

Your job description should contain:

 1.    The job title

The job title should give candidates an accurate picture of the responsibilities of the role.
Don’t be tempted to make the job sound more important than it is.
Use industry standard terminology to describe the position so candidates can quickly find the vacancy in online job searches.

2.   The purpose and value of the role

Why does the job exist?
Summarise in two to three sentences how the job adds value to the organisation.

 3. Where the job fits in the business

Describe the level of authority the employee will have in comparison to other roles in the organisation. You may even consider including an organisational chart to clarify the employee’s position in the company.

 4. Key relationships and decision-making authority

  • Who will the new employee report to?
  • Who will they work closely with?
  • Who will report to the employee?
  • What decisions can the employee make?

Answering these questions helps clarify working relationships and how they contribute to the overall success of the business.

5.   Key responsibilities

  • What are the main duties and responsibilities of the role?
  • Make your description concise.
  • Keep the list of tasks between eight and twelve points.

6.   Competency levels

  • What characteristics do you want your ideal candidate to have?

You may wish to include desirable behaviours.
For example, do you expect him or her to have good team working skills?

 7.    The person specification

List essential and desirable competencies and capabilities. Splitting competencies and capabilities into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ will allow you to eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the required skills. You can then quickly draw up a short list of suitable candidates to take to the next stage of the process.

Writing a job profile doesn’t have to be complicated.
Use existing job profiles as a basis and update them.
Meet with HR staff and the hiring manager to determine the required competencies, education and other important criteria that the successful candidate should have.

Don’t discount your own experience, especially if you previously held the position.
Interviewing other employees who have performed well in the role will also help you define the key competencies required.

How Can Rainmaker Help?
Rainmaker Recruitment and Selection Training workshops can help you write a clear and simple job profile in just 20 minutes. You’ll receive tools, templates and examples to create the top six capabilities for your job profile. You’ll learn how to attract impressive candidates and increase employee retention by ensuring the candidates you hire are the right motivational fit for your company.

Do you have any questions about writing job profiles?
Let us know by emailing us

Business Skills: Follow ups vs Stalking? 5 tips

I had a phone conversation with someone seeking a new job and I’m working with them to help them do that.

It was about his job search and it  went something like this:
Candidate: I wrote to him last week and still haven’t heard back. It’s so frustrating.
Me: Why not follow up and check in?
Candidate: But I don’t want to appear a stalker !!.

His fear is understandable.
No one wants to be considered a stalker by a professional contact.
That’s especially when you want a job, meeting,a yes to an order, or something else very important from that person.

Let’s get serious though for a minute…
The average business person certainly one who can hire people and approve  orders can get > two hundred emails a day.
Pretty tough to respond to all of them, and if things fall off the bottom of that screen…
Then it’s natural for them to fall to the bottom of their list.
If you don’t get a response, it does not mean that someone’s ignoring you or finds you a pain

Reframe it to yourself and understand that they want to help you.
Your job is to make it easy for them to help you.
However it just may be that they are just too busy.

Should you follow up? Absolutely.  In fact, it’s your job.

Question is: How often should you do so?

Answer is;  “As many times as it takes.

However please do it the right way.
Be  “pleasantly persistent.”
Here are a few tips on how to (nicely) follow up with that hiring manager, sales lead, or VIP—and get the answer you’re looking for.

Rule 1: Be Overly Polite and Humble

That seems obvious enough, but a lot of people take it personally when they don’t hear back from someone right away.
Resist the urge to get upset or mad.
Never take your feelings out in an email.
Never say something like, “You haven’t responded yet,” or “You ignored my first email.”
Try…  ” I naturally assume that you are up to your neck in Muck and Bullets as usual ” ?

Just maintain an extremely polite tone throughout the entire email thread.
Showing that you’re friendly and that you understand how busy your contact is is a good way to keep him or her interested (and not mad).

Rule 2: Please not Every Day

Sending a follow-up email every day doesn’t show you have determination.
Actually  it shows you don’t respect a person’s time and don’t understand how busy people are at work and play.
A good rule of thumb is to allow a week before following up.
Any sooner, and it might come off as pushy;
If you let too much time pass, you risk the other person forgetting who you are.
Start off with an email every week, and then switch to every couple of weeks.

Rule 3: Ask if You Should Stop Bothering them

If you’ve followed up a few times and still haven’t heard back, it’s worth directly asking if you should stop following up.
After all, you don’t want to waste your time, either.
Try “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had the time to reply.
I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested.
I’ve been around long enough to know that a “YES” is Great …
A “NO” is clear but disappointing but actually preferable to
a “POSSIBLY” because that means we can’t move on..
Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up.”

Most people respect honesty and don’t want to waste someone’s time, and they’ll at least let you know one way or another.

Rule 4: Stand Out…. But in a Good Way

I once had someone trying to sell me something…
I was vaguely interested in it.
However it was, at that time, nowhere near the top of my priority list.

Every week, he’d send me a new email quickly re-explaining what he sold
However he also copied links to stuff relevant to my job and commented on them.
It made him stand out in a good way, and as a result, we eventually had a call.
The lesson: If done well, a little creativity in your follow up can go a long way.

Rule 5: Change your approach

If you’re not connecting with someone, try changing your approach
Try sending email at different times and days of the week.
Sometimes responses can depend on catching them at the right time.
Try a phone call early in the morning before the gatekeeper has got in or in the evening when they’ve gone home?
Senior people do get in early and stay late I find…

Do Remember this though : If someone does ask you to stop following up… Then you must stop following up.
‘cos that is then STALKING and we don’t do that. Do we?

But until you hear that, it’s your responsibility to keep trying.

Interviewing Skills: Telling your “career story” confidently

As I’ve recently blogged I believe that you are the story-teller of your own career
and if you’re a freelancer then a story-teller of your capabilities.

People can only judge you based on what you’re telling them.
If you tell people only that you have been made redundant people may see you
as someone who may not be valuable in their workplace.

Compare that with sending a strong, clear message that you’re a key contributor , whose had big successes.
People may be more likely to give you job leads, offers and career opportunities.

Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…

1. Keep humility in it’s place.

Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes
you’ve had with your professional network, then your career may not move along.
How would anyone know to hire you if you don’t tell your story?

2. Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility.

It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can accomplish, and what you have to offer.
It makes you stand out from the crowd.
If you want to get noticed, then learn how to talk about your achievements.
Not in an arrogant way, in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” way.

3. Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years.

Say out loud (not on a train! ? ) in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes
Add in what the impact was to the organisation.
Use S.T.A.R.
Here was the Situation, This was the Task, Here was my Action and then add in Results
“The company needed to save money. I led the technical team to introduce a new internal tool that was launched.
The tool is now saving the company £100,000 a year.”

“I was the Director on the marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”

One key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is learning how to talk about your successes.
Nobody knows what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.

4. Frame your story positively.

How do you frame your story to hiring managers if your position has been made redundant?
They will create their perception of you based on what you tell them.
If you talk about your career in a positive, confident way
– then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.
Everyone has setbacks in their career.

5. Don’t give up because you fluffed one interview.

It happens to all of us. Sometime we just freeze.
Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity
The key is not to beat yourself up.
Don’t shy away from future opportunities learn from the situation and then do better next time.

Continue looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again.
Don’t let one a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward.
Get out there.
Find your voice and share your career story with confidence.
Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it!

Realise that it’s you who are giving away free consulting

How to avoid giving away free consulting.

If you are a consultant, a consultative sales person or a coach, when you meet a prospect for the first time if you are like many people you are desperately trying to bring value.
You want to show that you know your stuff .
You fall into “consulting mode” and start doing the project for free.
You notice that the client is frantically making notes.
They are asking for the things you are showing to be sent by soft copy.
Then you wake up and realise that you are giving away your precious time by delivering  unpaid consulting.

You may have just stepped over the line.
The line between doing what you need to do to sell your services and giving free consulting.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when your keeness to impress takes over.
They may keep you on the right side of the line, allow to deliver value to your prospects and help you win the projects you want.

Tip #1 :  Watch out for the client open questions …


“What would you do if you were me?”
“What specific steps would you take in what sequence?”
“How would you suggest we overcome this?”

If you start answering those questions with details, you can find yourself  in free consulting land.
Be ready with an answer to those kind of questions … Try
“Right now I don’t know enough about your situation to answer that question…
However the first step we’d take after you decide to employ us is…”

Tip #2: Resist the urge to solve problems early

No one forces consultants to lay out solutions to a client’s problem.
However we all occasionally feel an urge to solve them.
We really enjoy it. It’s who we are and what we do.
However if we do it now …
We just lost track of the real reason for this conversation and that’s clear and simple.

Is there a here project to work on?

We think our willingness to consult will help win the deal.
We also know that whatever we say it’s premature and probably of little value.

Tip #3 Frame and Reframe the problem but don’t solve

Your client brings a tough problem to you. You have to
1. Understand the issue(s)
2. Define the scope of the effort
3. Frame and Re-frame the project to suit your approach
4. Work out with the client the value of resolving the issue.

Discuss these and you’ll demonstrate your fitness to do the work.
Plus, you’ll uncover everything you need to move the project forward to a proposal.
Do this type of project “Re-framing” at no cost.

If clients presses you for alternatives, say something like,
“I want to work with you on this issue, and I have ideas on how we can proceed.
However I don’t know enough yet to give you answers that you and I would be comfortable are the right ones.”

Frame and Re-frame a project for free.
Offer consulting services for a fee.

Tip #4 Define Boundaries and then Stick to them

Watch out for those clients who call (repeatedly) to get additional, unpaid help with a project.
Flattering isn’t it?  You take  it as a sign of trust and a strong relationship?
Easy to want to pitch in and help?
But you can easily cross that line again.

We suggest that you let your clients know they can contact you any time.
Be ready to take their calls or respond to emails.
Think about putting a time limit on “free help” ..
“30 days after we complete the project you can ask us questions for free”
Resist taking on unpaid work that requires extended effort.
You know the kind of work, editing a report or creating a new document, no matter who asks.
Let your clients know politely but firmly that you’re not able to take on such tasks without starting a paid project.

Most will understand the validity of boundaries.
Those who don’t are probably best left to someone else.

We think you can probably never really eliminate all unpaid consulting from your business.
However a good first step is to recognise what you are doing to create the situations where it thrives.

Good Rainmaking

Rainmaking: Selling yourself or How to toot your horn without blowing your own trumpet

“I’m really good at what I do,” says Paul, “but just I don’t seem to get a chance to show people.”
Paul’s experienced, is highly skilled, and is really good at what he does.
Getting enough work to earn a living as a freelancer means you need to learn how to sell yourself and what you do.
In fact I’d go further than that even if you are not a freelancer and in a team in a large company you need to be able to sell yourself.
If you don’t sell yourself internally then how do you think any of your colleagues will go about cross-selling your services?

Back to Paul…
“I don’t like to talk about myself,” he admits.
“It feels like bragging to say what a terrific job I do.
I don’t know how to express my capabilities to potential clients without sounding like a conceited know-it-all.”

Like Paul, lots of professional people hesitate to say how good they are.
They tell me that they feel immodest.
They fear that others will criticise them.
Many were taught from an early age and believe it’s unprofessional to boast.
Oh and by the way that is completely correct because if you TELL someone that you are great you’ll hit their critical filter.
So we have to find a way around the filter using different techniques and different perspectives.
There are ways you can let people know what you’re capable of and to not brag”

Tip 1. Use Your Clients’ Words

Testimonial quotes or endorsement letters from satisfied clients are your starting point.
These are really powerful tools that help communicate your value.
When clients describe what you did for them in their words, prospects gain a real understanding of your skills and talents.
This is very, very persuasive.
To solicit convincing testimonials from your clients, you will need to pick a time when they have expressed their appreciation for what you do.
Ask them, “How would you describe my work to someone who could benefit from it?”
Proudly display these testimonial quotes on your website.
Include them on a panel in your brochure or page in your marketing kit.
Sprinkle them throughout your marketing collateral.

Tip 2: Let Stories Show What You Can Do

When you need to speak with prospective clients about your capabilities, have two or three RELEVANT client success stories.
Again you see we are using someone else saying how great you are not you.
Instead of boasting about your qualifications, you are simply relating what happened.
Start by briefly describing your client’s situation when you started.
Then outline what you did for them.
Conclude with the client’s reaction and results.
Use your client’s words to tell the story instead of using your words.

Don’t say, “I wrote an easy-to-use manual early”.
Instead how about saying “My client was very pleased with how easy it was to use the manual, and he appreciated my completing it well before his deadline.”?

This change in perspective (seemingly where the comment is coming from) will also make you more comfortable.
Instead of relating your own perspective on what you did, you are merely sharing your client’s view of it.
This is much more convincing than speaking in the first person.
If you say it in the first person “I wrote an easy-to-use manual early”.
Your client will think “But you would say that you’re trying to sell it to me!!”.
You feel like you are bragging and everyone’s uncomfortable.

Tip 3 :Write-Up Case Studies

This storytelling approach can also help to get across the tangible results of an intangible process.
Consider a specialist struggling with how to communicate why clients hire him.
Sometimes the nature of what you do can be varied and difficult to describe in one sentence.
Demonstrate your abilities with case studies.
Write up five case studies about successful client engagements, each one focusing on a different problem.
In three to four paragraphs tell the story of your work with a client.
What was the original situation, what was the task in hand, what did you do, what were the results?
Always keep the names confidential unless you have express permission.
Try to get a quote from your client on the results you achieved together.

Tip 4: Try Thought Leadership

Try writing a white paper with your views on a particular topic to send to prospects by email or blog .
Share it with potential referral sources, or hand it out if you’ve when you give a talk.

Tip 5: But when you start out as a freelancer what if you can’t do any of the above?

You don’t have an impressive client list to display nor a stack of testimonials from satisfied clients.
How do you show evidence for that? As we’ve agreed you cannot just say it”.
Your profile / bio must include all the affiliations, awards, and accomplishments you have accumulated.
If you’ve worked on a project that was given an award, mention it.
Tell the story of the project as much as you can from the perspective of what results did it achieve.
Create a portfolio of any successful projects.
Put together a portfolio of work that you’ve done inside and outside companies.
Demonstrate your competence here instead of merely claiming it.

A final thought or two:

If you don’t let people know how you can help them, you will never get a chance to do so.
When you show people what you can do, you’re letting them know how your work can make their lives better or their jobs easier.
So, choose one of these ideas to toot your horn without blowing your own trumpet.
By the way there is a book you might like to read called “Brag!” by Peggy Klaus.

Start letting your light shine.

LIGHT by Virginia Satir
I can’t light your light
I can only light mine
So that I can illuminate
For you to see to light your own light.

Project Management: Scope Creep and how to avoid it

Project Management Soft Skills : Managing Scope Creep

The order was taken a few weeks ago.
The contract is signed, and work has started.
They said there was a little “slack” left after the negotiating / purchasing process so you can over-deliver a little.
The client loves what you and your team are doing for them.
They promises to give you more work in the future.

So, it’s no big deal when they ask you to do “one more thing” for them.
You do it and get back to work.

Then you get another request.

And then another.

All of a sudden the project is off track.

You’ve just started the process of what the suits and the grey hairs call scope creep.

Here are 3 ideas to prevent that from happening.

3 suggestions to help you maintain your boundaries and still have strong client relationships.

As always with Rainmaker only you can decide what works for you in your environment.

First Step: For both your sakes get clarity about what specifically is the request

Sometimes clients are responding to something happening in the wider organisation.
Sometimes they are not clear on what they need and what they really want.
Remember our job is to give them what they have agreed with us they need, not to do everything they ask.

However When you do get a request like this, please don’t say no at first.
Sending an email with all the reasons why it is not included in the scope of the project is not your best plan here.
No one likes to be told no. It feels like rejection.
Not great for client rapport (and more business)
Talk to your client and find out the story behind the request.
Why is it so important and why now?
Clarify exactly what they want you to do.
Actually in practice many times we find requests have been based on false assumptions.

Second Step: Agree the Impact

Many clients don’t mean to take advantage of us.
Something suddenly comes up and they think they need your help.
Because they trust you, they think it’s OK to ask.
In their mind they’re thinking “This will only take a minute.”
You however need you reassure yourself and your client and then come to an agreement.

  1. How much time do you think it will actually take?
  2. If we take that time what will it impact?
  3. Is that all agreed with all concerned?
  4. Probably more importantly…. If you say Yes and deliver it for no charge then you may have established a precedent.
    The precedent is set in the mind of the client that it’s ok to ask and you will agree to do extra tasks for them.
  5. You need to help them understand how the request will impact the project.
    They need to own this part … They can choose their priorities.

Third Step: Give your client an Easy Option or Option of least resistance

Like most people your clients think they know what kind of help they need at the beginning of a project.
Much like any change project, it’s not until they get into the process that other needs are discovered.
At that point, clients feel very vulnerable.
They now know they need extra help, but they don’t know how to get it.
This is why they ask you.

This is your big chance to put the big underpants on the outside of your outfit.
(Think Superman or Wonder Woman) This is when you can save the day.

Remember this is a “surprise” and no one could foresee this.
Work on the assumption that the client is NOT asking for free work.
May be you should communicate that assumption to them?

Have at least two options ready to cover the new development.

Option 1
Should be the one that includes additional investment

Option 2
Is the solution that includes adjusting the scope.
Your aim is to make it easy for the client to get help without having to jump through a lot of budget hoops.
I suggest that when you’ve agreed either of them an email note confirming your agreement should suffice.

Keep Calm and Carry On
I suggest that you try to believe clients do not intend to deliberately take advantage of you.
Sometimes they don’t know where the boundaries are and you may have to help them understand.
When you can take blame out of the situation, you can look for the “yes” instead of starting your conversation with a “no.”
With clarity and compassion, we can deal with the real issues, communicate the impact, and create easy ways to move forward.
Our clients will remember how you helped them and still rave about your work.

If you have difficulty with this maybe take a look at our Project Management Soft skills workshops

Performance Management Training: Root Causes of Performance Issues

Our experience is that you can spend an awful lot of manager and employee time trying to solve a performance problem.
And all of it can be wasted if neither the manager nor employee know what is the root cause of the problem .

Below we have given you a structure that may help identify that root cause and help you to describe possible factors influencing employee performance.

(we sometimes cover this in our Performance Management Training Workshops

The Logical Levels model or the Psychological Levels Model.

The model originates from the work of NLP.
For the purposes of this exercise we will use the bottom 5 levels.

1. Identity

2. Beliefs and Values

3. Skills and Capabilities

4. Behaviours

5. Environment

One way the model can be thought about is to accept that we all have multiple identities.

Level 1 :I’m a Dad, a Husband, a Trainer and a Coach to name a few.
Level 2:  For an identity at level 1, I will have certain beliefs and values appropriate to the identity.
Level 3:  I bring certain skills and capabilities to bear, again differing for each identity and belief
Level 4:  The behaviours I exhibit will change again dependent on what skills and capabilities I employ
Level 5: The Where and When I will exhibit these behaviours will be congruent with levels above…

Another way to look at this model is by the kinds of questions asked of you at each level.
Level 1: WHO am I ?
Level 2: WHY am I doing this?
Level 3: WHAT Specific skills do I bring?
Level 4: HOW am I using my skills and behaving?
Level 5: WHERE and WHEN do I do this?

This model encourages you to work up from the bottom level and can help you diagnose what is the probable root cause of performance problems.

Level 5: Environmental issues:

The sort of question to ask would be targeted at finding out if the environment surrounding the person is supportive of their performing
A few typical environmental barriers to performance.

  • Uncooperative co-workers
  • Incorrect tools / Unhelpful lighting , heating, desks, chairs etc
  • Poor quality materials to work with
  • Not given enough time to complete the work or competing workloads from other tasks
  • Lack of incentives
  • Lack of positive reinforcements and feedback on a job well done
  • Other pressures outside of work all may contribute.
  • Pressures from another identity? Being a Dad with children issues?

Discussion  with the employee should start with reference to factors outside the control of the employee that may impede  progress.

Level 4: How am I behaving?

Your questions should be focused at discovering if the person understands the behaviours and effort required as well as what are unacceptable standards
What measures are in place and how objective are they?
How clear is the performance of the individual to the individual?

The kinds of issues that you may see at this level might be

  •  Not trying hard (Could be fear of failure , boredom . Could be lack of skill?)
  • Not understanding what behaviour is required or is acceptable in the role
    A person must understand the nature of the task, and what is expected.
    If  this is lacking, no amount of skill or motivation will  bring about effective performance.
  • Not knowing exactly what to do and when ( Lack of Training?)
  • Lack of a role model
  • Or wrong role models who lead them astray
  • An employee may be putting in  a limited amount of effort and or time and therefore producing inferior results.

Level 3: Skills and Capabilities

Your questions aim at whether the person does have the skills and capabilities to do the job at the standard you require.
Can you test their skills? Maybe role play a test appointment with a client? Test typing speeds? Using excel spreadsheets?

The kinds of issues that surface at this level

  • Lack of Aptitude:
    Each of us has strengths and weaknesses that determine if we can learn or  perform a task.
    Poor aptitude for a task could mean that the person could  never learn how to do it, even with all the support in the world.
  • No time to practice and perfect the skills:
    We all need a little time to learn a new skill and time to practice in a safe environment
    A chance to fail without the world caving in on us.
    Has the person been given a mentor to show them the new skills?
    What training and learning events have they undertaken? Courses? Books? DVDs? Shadowing?
  • To assess whether a performance deficit is a result of lack of skill, ask the  questions,
    “If his/her life depended on it, could the person do the task?”
    If the answer is no, then it could be a skill problem.

Level 2: Beliefs and Values

The issues at this level are now getting difficult to change.
The person may need to contemplate changing role if the current role demands different beliefs

Your questions need to dig deep to seek out these deeply held beliefs.
You may have to use re-framing techniques to get the person to change their beliefs

Sometimes beliefs get in the way, sometimes it can be a lack of self belief.

For example…

  •  I cannot sell to my friends and I’ve worked with these clients so long that they are now my friends
  • I could not go in and see the CEO because I would be so nervous and I’m so insignificant she wouldn’t see me anyway
  • We’ve always done it this way and it works. There’s no need to change
  • I’ve always had time off in lieu for doing this activity why the change?

Level 5: Identity

The issues here can be of a very deep and personal nature and only resolved by the person themselves.

For example…

  • My job title is now manager so you must respect me
  • My role as a parent impacts on my role as a Vice President
  • I’m the leader of this team so therefore I must know everything there is to know
  • My title says I’m managing so I need to manage everything ( become a micro manager?)

We hope that this model allows you to diagnose the issue of performance problems.

We hope it too allows you to co-create a solution with the employee which they own but you can assist with, finally resolve the perormance issues and get the employee back on track to excellence.

Please let us know how you find its use…

Interviewer Skills Training: The perils of Interviewing “from the hip”

Do your managers rock up to the Interview with no preparation and proceed to interview candidates?

Does it feel a little like  “Shooting from the hip” .

Is asking random interview questions “on the fly”, taking no notes and making a snap decision, basically what goes on at your place of work?

Are candidates rejected for having “No Sparkle”…

(Our Interviewer Skills Training Workshop might help here)

You may need to publicise an article from the Business Doctor in the Sunday Times 9th June to them.

The question posed was
” A Candidate who failed to get a job claims I discriminated against her because of her age. How do I defend my case? I thought only employees could take you to a tribunal”

The answer came  from Kingston Smith LLP written by Peter Done MD of Peninsula.
and is summarised below …

“Legislation that protects individuals from being discriminated against extends to job applicants as well as employees.
This means that not only must employers treat their employees fairly…
they must extend fair treatment to everyone who applies for a job.

This woman could have a point.
You need to rebut her allegations by showing her that your decision to not employ her was based on merit.”

What’s Rainmaker’s view of how you can do this?

If you have attended the Rainmaker Interviewer Skills Workshop you will know that there is really only one way to do this.

  • Have a good paper trail to show her
    • An interview rating form including your notes on how you graded all the candidates
    • OR a general set of notes reflecting how each individual performed
    • Or Documentation showing that the individual you selected was the better candidate based on merit

If you’d like to see how easily (and cheaply) you can put this in place in your business call or email

What are the consequences of not being able to produce this evidence ?

  • Be open to allegations of unfair treatment from people who are interviewed for a living
  • Potentially being sued (as one of our clients was )
  • Having to pay legal fees and costs awarded in favour of the candidate you allegedly treated unfairly and discriminated against.
  • Face out of court settlements of many thousands of pounds to protect your name and reputation

If you want to avoid all of this email us at and ask about Interviewer Skills workshop