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.

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!

Career Coaching: When the only way isn’t UP

Gone are the days when the only way for a career was directly up.

I suggest that thinking differently might keep your career moving quicker and longer.

Here are three tips for thinking differently about your next career move if “UP” isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  1. Think and Look laterally.

Don’t think of job descriptions as much as job families, or groups of jobs that have competencies in common.
For example if you are a financial analyst, consider other analyst positions in your company.
Perhaps in market research or sales.
It’s easier to move within a company where you are known.
Horizontal experience can also broaden your skills, which improves your chances of moving up.

2. Prove you can handle a promotion.

Volunteer to help your manager with her job.
Learn to do them well.
Offer to help interview job candidates, train and coach new people, and give them performance feedback.
Your progress should automatically make you a candidate for the next manager job.

3. Grow your skills to grow your job.

Seek out and take advantage of opportunities when they appear, and actively exceed expectations.
For example, I had a PA, who was given the task of  scheduling training of people for a new system.
It proved  impossible to schedule.
She learned the new system and decided to train the sales team one-on-one.
It wasn’t long before she was asked if she wanted to be a trainer by IT department.

What’s your next career move? Where will you look? What can you volunteer for?
Are there similar job roles to yours with overlapping skills required?
Go and be curious about how the people succeed and what they do

Career Coaching: 4 more things that go wrong at interviews

We run Interviewer Skills Workshops and run Interviewer Skills Coaching days to get the Interviewers learning “in the muscle”. We’ve interviewed lots of people over the years and seen lots of interviewers do their new stuff. You will I’m sure not be surprised that we’ve seen candidates come prepared to fail.

As a way of getting you to prepare and get the job of your dreams the Rainmaker team came up with our top 10 examples.
In the first blog we shared 3 and in this blog I’m going to share my second 3 things we’ve seen go wrong (and in another blog the last 4)

1. I hated my old boss
Don’t fall into the trap  of bad mouthing past bosses or colleagues, even if they were the worst individuals on the planet.

If you left under a compromise agreement and have to talk about old bosses, then talk about all of the bosses you did like.

Then maybe a little about why you and your boss didn’t work out from both points of view.

You should mention that you tried your best but couldn’t work it out.
Do not bad mouth your old boss!

Then change the topic with a question about your new potential bosses management style!

2. Norwegian Blues don’t get jobs
It’s vital that you practice and rehearse how you answer the standard questions that your coach will equip you with…

Never come across like you are reading from an autocue or like Polly from the Monty Python Parrot sketch (although come to think of it Polly was an ex Parrot) .

You should be able to tailor your answers to ensure that you are answering with examples relevant to the job in hand

3. Answer  the ACTUAL question
Listen carefully to the question.
There will be a specific example of a skill or capability that the interviewer will be trying to draw out.
You should have a story prepared that demonstrates your competency.
Don’t waffle.
We find the STAR format works for stories.
What was the Situation?
What was the Task in hand?
What Action did you take?
What Results did you achieve?
Practice your stories and you should answer the question well

 4. Watch and use your body language
Your interviewer will be allive to your language from the moment you arrive to when you leave.
You need to impress and to sell yourself.
Watch the Amy Cuddy Body Language video on TED

Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, not a limp handshake that suggests a weak character.
Smile and make eye contact.

Remember you cannot NOT Communicate… Yes please read that again.



Career Coaching: 3 Things that go wrong at Interviews

We run Interviewer Skills Workshops and run Interviewer Skills Coaching days to get the Interviewers learning “in the muscle”. We’ve interviewed lots of people over the years and seen lots of interviewers do their new stuff.
You will I’m sure not be surprised that we’ve seen candidates come prepared to fail.

As a way of getting you to prepare and get the job of your dreams the Rainmaker team came up with our top 10 examples.
And in this blog I’m going to share 3 things we’ve seen go wrong (and in other blogs more of the same)

  1. Most job interviews start or will have somewhere in the interview the following 4 questions.
    1. Tell me about yourself
    2. Tell me why you left your old job
    3. Tell me about why you want this job
    4. “Tell me what you know about the company”.   
      Oh DEAR … If you haven’t prepared for this one you are going to look a little foolish.
      Erm … Erm …isn’t going to get you there.
      Take a look at the company’s website and research the key facts about the business.
      15 minutes will do it.

2. Turning up late for an interview
Really Bad move: You’ve probably run from from the tube. Feeling hot and sweaty?
Feel good? No. You are  now at a disadvantage to all the other being interviewed for the position.
Would you employ someone who can’t make it to work on time? For an interview?

3. Poor Attire
I know they shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but we all do. First impressions count.
Your interviewer will have made a judgement already, in reception, on your suitability for the role by the way you dress.
Keep it smart and comfortable , clean and professional.

Good Luck in your Interviews…

Manager as Coach Training: Seven Principles to Manage Brilliant Women ( and Men too:)

A Guest blog from Kate Burton

I coach so many amazing women. Talented, focused and hardworking.
(And plenty of men too!) People like you…and the people you manage, lead and coach too.

Here’s the challenge.

They usually don’t notice how good they really are. (I meet more humble women than men.)
They highlight what they can’t do perfectly rather than what they do so well.
So how do you get them to step up? And stop waiting in the shadows helping others to shine when inside they are secretly wondering why nobody is giving them the space they deserve?

Here are seven ways to help your people take ownership of their shiny talents and use them to make a difference in the world.

As you put your ‘manager as coach’ hat on, encourage them with the following guiding principles …

  1. Pay attention to your own passion and energy.
    Only you can take ownership of your career (and life), so don’t wait for others to set your direction and tell you what to do
    Start by noticing what fires you up and gives you energy.
    Spend more time in this space and you’ll be unstoppable as you inspire other people with your enthusiasm.
  2. Appreciate yourself.
    Set your intent to validate and appreciate yourself and what you stand for, in all your works
    When others see how you value yourself, they’ll value you more and have the courage to be more like you.
  3. Develop a protective skin.
    Skin is the biggest organ in the body and has amazing properties to protect and heal.
    Imagine that you can put an extra super-coating on your body as you step up and face the world. One that others can’t easily tear or damage, and which will repair itself if knocked.
    Can you think of anyone brilliant who never gets criticised?
    No, then decide you don’t have to please everyone, all of the time.
  4. Develop your sponsors.
    Everyone benefits from others who look out for them and filter opportunities their way.
    (I’ve noticed that while women are good at getting mentors, men are particularly better at getting sponsors.)
    Make sure you cultivate relationships with those people who want the best for you, will extol your virtues rather than delight in your faults or make you feel scared. Leave behind those who love to control or criticise and look for those who’ll stretch and support you to raise your game.
  5.  Quiet the voice on your shoulder that says:
    ‘Who are you to put your head above the parapet?’
    It’s normal to have some noisy ‘chatter’ that gets in the way.
    Stop and listen to the infamous words of Marianne Williamson as you ask yourself:
    “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? . . . as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
  6. Replace humble with daring.
    So many women, in particular, play safe. They fear their own vulnerability.
    In order to harness your courage, you need to be-friend your vulnerability.
    Once you do, you’ll find your own natural and greater leadership.
    Dare to dream the impossible.
    If you reach for the stars, then you can always set your sights closer to earth.
  7. Let others be brilliant too.
    Be generous in your support of others. They’ll appreciate it and reciprocate.
    The world is big enough for everyone to be their best, so never try and keep others down through your own insecurities and comparisons. The best leaders let others fly.
    Encourage your people to: Be bold. Have fun. Get on with it!

And if you need help on the way, we offer loads of resources, books, coaching and workshops to support you including the popular Manager as Coach programme.

And you could always take a look at Kate’s book

And remember to share the principles with other brilliant women, and men too…

Performance Management Training: What do Managers need to be a good coach?

What do Managers need to be a good coach?

Many companies ask their managers to coach employees.
Many managers find it difficult.

(Our Performance Management Training Workshops help)

Coaching needs a set of skills that need to be developed.
The manager has a number of hats to wear and “Coach” is only one of them.
Often they are looked upon to provide guidance, give answers, settle conflict, build team spirit, issue directives, set objectives.
These require behaviours different to those of a coach.

What are the skills that are necessary in order to be a successful business coach?
We think that a manager acting as an internal coach should be able to draw upon these

  1. This one is how we start our Coach the Coaches training .

    You need to be there.

    That can just mean being “available” when needed.

    Then you need to be there “in the room” Physically AND Mentally”.

    Not looking at your “crackberry” or listening for the ping of email messages

    Completely focused on the person to be coached

    If that is too difficult then please pass up the opportunity to coach.

  2. You need to have an ability to build rapport quickly and build trust.

    You must agree expectations for individuals at the early stages of coaching.

    You must be able to treat each individual as unique

    You need to adjust your coaching style accordingly.

  3. You need an ability to “Agree” goals and targets

    You balance between goals that are too easy and goals which are too stretching.

    Take your lead from the person being coached.

    In our experience they’ll agree a more agressive goal that you’ll set


  4. The ability to put your manager hat on for a moment to suggest areas for coaching

    Then Coach you way through

    1. What people should keep doing (positive reinforcements)
    2. What they should stop doing or lessen (which can be more negative feedback)
    3. Work with them generating new ideas that they can start doing
  5. The ability to conduct effective coaching conversations

    You need to be comfortable asking the individual being coached for ideas and suggestions.

    You then listen actively and attentively.

    Encourage individuals to think back on their experiences and discuss lessons learned.

    Debate with them implications of the experience for future behavior or action.

    Remember the answer is with the person being coached not you.


  6. An Ability to follow a structured coaching conversation.

    Using the GROW model for example.

    Working through that each time with the coachee

    Maybe after the first two or three conversations tell them the structure.

    That way they can use it themselves before they see you

  7. The ability to conclude coaching conversations positively and follow up

    You need to either summarise the conversations or get the coachee to.

    Then follow up with individuals so that all sessions build on the last and are as action oriented as possible.

    Hold the agenda for the person but they are responsible for progress.

If when you look through this list and say to yourself that you are happier providing guidance, giving answers, settling conflict, building team spirit, issuing directives, setting not agreeing objectives then perhaps you should cancel yourself off of the Coaching for Managers workshops and just get back to managing.  Or maybe you just fancy a challenge??

Career Coaching : The Trap Door Question:

On an initial interview the interviewers questions often begin with:  “Tell me about yourself”

This is one of the most common interview questions.


(We;d cover this kind of topic and others in the Career Coaching Service )

You need to have your answer formulated.

The questions to ask yourself is Where to start, where to end and what to focus on!

Prepare well for this question and you can use it as a great opportunity to sell yourself.
Prepare it badly and it can be a trap-door question.
That’s where the interviewer is reaching for the “End the interview trap-door” lever.

You will need to frame your answer to highlight how your skills, knowledge and experience relate to the job and the company profile.
The interviewer wants to know if you will fit in with the rest of the team, their department and the company.

The interviewer is also trying to find out what motivates you and whether it is consistent with what the job and the company offer.

If you are still talking 10 minutes later about where you were born and grew up, or what pets you have, or how much your enjoy contemporary music then the probability is the trap door is opening. These kind of statements are not likely to show the interviewer why you are a good candidate for the job opportunity.
Make your interview answer relevant to the job role, the company and it’s style.
For this question all of that needs to take around 2 to 3 minutes maximum.

You can practice this on your partner, on a parent, on a peer, on a colleague and with your coach if you have one.

It should not be the same every time because every job role every company will be different however there should be a few common elements.

Keep the trap-door firmly shut by practicing answering this question.

Career Coaching: Is Job Hunting during the run up to Christmas a Waste of Time?

In a word, NO!

Many, if not most, job seekers seem to want take the end of the year “off” from their job hunting.
There are a lot more fun things to do than job hunt, and it just “feels like” no one is hiring in the run up to Christmas.
So,they think why not relax, and then hit the ground running on January 3rd?

Here are 2 Excellent Reasons NOT to Stop Job Hunting at Year End!

1.  Employers ARE hiring.
I  have heard from 4 candidates in the last few days that they’ve been given the nod on jobs and await the confirmation paperwork.
These jobs are permanent and serious and are not just for “Christmas and holiday jobs.”

The job stats that we see say that more people are hired in November and December than are hired in January.  Not necessarily what you would think . Interesting?

Regardless of the time of the year, employers have work that needs to be done.
Employers in retail, do need more people during the holidays, but that spike is usually covered by hiring in September and October.

Many employers want to be “ramped up” for the new year, with the staffing levels at 100%.
So hiring now enables that.   In many organizations, budgets that aren’t used before the end of the year may not be available for the new year.  Employers want to fill those jobs before the budgets evaporate.

  2.  You will have LESS competition.  

The year-end holiday period is the calm before the storm that is the January job market.
Because so many job seekers slack off during the end of the year, there are fewer job seekers going after every job. Which means less competition for most jobs.

That should translate into less competition for you and the jobs you want, even in normally highly competitive fields.

So, don’t wait for the January tsunami of job seekers to hit the job market.

Continue your job search now!