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.

Need A Workshop Facilitator? 5 Ways A Rainmaker Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business

Need A Workshop Facilitator? 5 Ways A Rainmaker Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business You have a new project at work. You organise a meeting and get the team together. You desperately want to hear from everyone, including internal and external stakeholders .. However as usual the same voices dominate the discussion and everyone else nods quietly in agreement. Sometimes getting everyone’s perspective helps. That’s where a Rainmaker Knowledge Café comes in.

What Is A Knowledge Café?

A Knowledge Café is a workshop where participants sit in small groups of four to eight people at a table, like a café. Participants at each table discuss one specific question for 20 to 45 minutes. At the end of each round, one person stays at the table and the rest of the participants move to other tables. The person who remains at the table acts as a host to welcome the new participants to the table. The host summarises previous round’s discussion for the newcomers. Then the newcomers share their observations from the previous round and the discussion continues. In the third round, participants have the option of returning to their first table. A new question can also be introduced to deepen the discussion. After several rounds, the whole group share their discoveries and insights. The Knowledge Café builds on the collective knowledge of the group to develop possibilities for creative action.

5 Ways A Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business

1. Increased Participation. Sometimes the most dominant people do not have all answers. In a Knowledge Café all contributions are valued, from board members to junior staff. Working in smaller groups helps quieter people feel more comfortable and gives them the chance to get their views heard. Decisions are made that take account of a broader spectrum of opinions. 2. New Perspectives. The Rainmaker facilitator will listen to everything that is said and accurately feedback the discussion to the group. The facilitator will help the group and remain open to input from all group members. People who perform different roles in the company may have conflicting ideas. Facilitation brings different views together to form a fresh perspective on a situation. 3. Creative Solutions. The supportive environment of the Knowledge Café allows groups to make creative decisions. Instead of focusing on the problem, groups concentrate on the desired future state that they want to achieve. Working backwards from the solution allows participants to think more creatively. 4. Faster decisions. The Rainmaker Cafe speeds up the decision-making process. Participants focus on their first intuitive responses, which often lead to higher quality decisions than a long drawn out analytical process. Participants continue to build on the decisions made at the Knowledge Café once the workshop has finished. 5. Improved Motivation. People are more committed to plans they help create than plans that are simply imposed upon them. Sometimes managers are afraid that junior staff will make bad decisions. However, our experience tells us when people are well-informed of the facts and work together in a safe environment, the collective knowledge and co-operation of the group leads to better decisions. As a result, staff are motivated to implement these decisions more quickly and effectively.

Knowledge Café Workshops

We’ve run Knowledge Cafes for the NHS in Central London bringing together patients, clinicians, charities, public health professionals and politicians. Our clients have used Knowledge Cafes for strategic planning and developing new projects. Rainmaker Knowledge Cafes focus on building creative plans and achieving successful solutions. Find out more about Rainmaker Knowledge Café can help 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

Interviewer Skills Training Workshop tip#3

Could an Interviewer Skills Training Workshop to train all of the people who interview candidates for you save you work as well as improve your results?

One recent client of ours thinks so.

During a recent Interviewer Skills Workshop  it came to light that they were paying between 10 to 15% (of first years salary) to recruitment consultants.

They also revealed that they did their own CV screening.

We were able to show them how to conduct objective , fair and consistent approaches to screening.

We also showed them how to fully brief recruitment agents and how to very simply measure their performance.

They said that alone would save them an enormous amount of work , time and money.

Do you measure the value for money you get from recruitment agents?

Or are they just passing you a pile of CVs and getting you to do the real work? Oh and still getting their fee for doing that?

Would an Interviewer Skills Workshop help you get better value for money ?

Interviewer Skills Training : Workshop tip#2

Is an Interviewer Skills Training workshop for all the people in your organization who interview potential employees great value for money?

One recent Rainmaker client definitely thinks so!

During our recent workshop during a particularly interactive session these facts emerged.

This particular client had spent £250K on recruitment consultants fees over the previous 12 months.

They also insisted that they conducted their own in-house interviews.

33% of new hires left after 12 months of working there.  You could conclude that £80k of that £250k was completely wasted ?

The reasons that the candidates / employees gave for leaving were that

1. They didn’t seem to fit in with the way we do things here

2. Job and company did not fit expectations

3. Some actually didn’t have the skills that they said they had at the interview!

We were able to show them how to probe and ask capability based questions that really uncovered whether candidates actually had the skills.
We also gave them values based questions that made the fit of person and company match clear.

Not bad for £1,500 for 9 interviewers in 2014.

What are the same numbers for your use of consultants and 12 month attrition rates . Could you save a lot by spending a  little?

Let us know…

Interviewer Skills Training: Tip#1

Is an Interviewer Skills Training workshop for all of the people who interview potential employees expensive? (2014 :£1,500 for up to 9 people).

A number of our clients do not think so

A recent client called the Rainmaker team in to run a workshop for them to prevent an occurrence of  an Out of Court Settlement that cost them £10k!!

A candidate ( who they later found out seems to make a living out of this) accused them of running a selection process that was discriminatory.

Unfortunately for them their documentation was so poor that they realized that should the case go to court they had no documentation to prove is was fair and Non-discriminatory.

Their lawyers advised them to settle.

How’s your documentation concerning your Interviewing and Selection process?

Could this happen to you?  Do you have experiences of this?  Let us know.

Appraisal Skills Training : SMARTER Objectives: Free e-book guide

In an effort to ensure Employees and Line managers get the most out of each other they AGREE objectives.
(We cover this in our Appraisal Skills Training Workshop )
Often they agree SMART objectives and targets.

There are lots of ways that SMART and SMARTER are represented, this is our version

Specific : To your role as an individual and to the outcomes you are trying to achieve

Measurable : So that you can both objectively determine whether the end result has been achieved

Agreed : Upon by you and your Line Manager. Note we don’t use the word SET but AGREED

Realistic : And within your accountability, authority and control

Timed :   To include milestones that will indicate progress

Empowering : We all like to think we are making a difference and can have a choice on the HOW

Reviewed : Absolutely no point in writing them down and filing them.
Only by reviewing them do we learn anything about what’s possible.

We’ve put together a free e-book on how to agree SMARTER Objectives

Here it is … Rainmaker e-book Agreeing Objectives


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

Performance Management Training: 10 tips for systems to recognise employees

We feel that in any organisation, employees need to feel that their contributions are recognised.
Often it’s managers who design and implement recognition strategies for employees.
However you may wish to consider some other ideas for developing recognition systems.

Here are a few ideas , (We cover lots in our Performance Management Training Workshops)related to developing and using recognition systems.

1) Design and implement your recognition initiatives with the idea that the employees are the “customers” of the program.
We think that you’ll agree that they must have a hand in specifying the system.

2) A recognition system must fit into your culture and climate.
You may need to get the basics in place.
Job descriptions and Appraisal Skills Training may be a good place to start.
If there’s a climate where distrust of management is high, it makes introducing recognition systems difficult.

3) Your recognition system should take account that workplaces require a high level of teamwork with other employees.
Most individual contribution will have been helped along directly or indirectly by coworkers.
Your Stars need recognition, but please remember the contributing team members.

4) Informal recognition (e.g.. the informal pat on the back) should happen anytime.
Encourage your managers to use this recognition and to do it publicly often.
Your managers will sets the tone for informal recognition.
By publicly recognising contribution, they get the message across that “we celebrate your effort and your accomplishments”.
However, your formal system should be based on measurement of results.
Your decision to give an “award” should be based on data that illustrates that the idea brought measurable results.

5) Use an employee team to determine recognition needs.
Define with them the behaviour you want to encourage.
What do you want the employees to Do More of,  Do Less of?
Make sure that the team understands what a recognition program is to accomplish.
Then let them work out how to get the information they need.

6) Communicate the intent, purpose and process used for your recognition system.
Make the entire process as open and employee-based as possible.
When employees understand the process, they are less likely to resent recognition of others.

7) Being recognised for contribution by your Peers is often the most valuable recognition.
Think how you can encorporate that into your process

8) High rewards can create a really competitive environment.
This may not necessarily be what you want.
Think about keeping values of actual rewards low.
Do more for recognition publicity and maybe also look to team based rewards.

9) Avoid situations where people are recognised for doing something as opposed to accomplishing something.

10) Make recognition a standard and integrated part of any staff meetings.
Ask the question: “What great things have we accomplished since our last meeting?”
Encourage people to talk about their own accomplishments, and to talk about those of their coworkers.

Do let us know your thoughts.