4 Tips For Managing Interpersonal Relationships on Your Next Project

Working with a variety of divisions or departments in a company presents interesting challenges.  Apart from whatever processes or protocols are in place to get your projects completed through inter-department or division channels, there’s a human layer here that takes some thoughtful handling.  While it may be someone’s job description to contribute to your goal, navigating personalities and individual interests is a project on its own, and worthy of a flowchart!  Here are some tips that may help you:

  1. Contacts – make sure you are working with the right individual(s) in each division or department.  While someone may have “Marketing” or “Sales” in their title they may not be the person who will actually handle the daily details on projects.  If you’re not sure, contact the department head, explain what you are trying to accomplish and what you will need from that department, and ask who they want to put on the project.  If they are not the one for the project, having their endorsement for their representative creates immediate interest for the participant and helps justify their time on your project.
  2. Communicate – to keep a disparate group focused on a project, set up regular communication.  Whether it’s weekly or less often, on the initial discussion with the group lay out what your expectations are for regular meetings or conference calls and then schedule them immediately to get them on everyone’s calendar.  When you have the meetings/calls make sure to respect everyone’s time by creating an agenda and keep to the time allotted.  Follow up with a summary of the discussion and any follow up items with reasonable completion dates.  Like animals sensing fear, if they don’t feel you are organized and have the reins they won’t bring their best effort.
  3. Collaborate – if you are dealing with divisions in your company that are responsible for their own revenue and P&L, determine if and how they might benefit from your project.  They will have more invested than just cooperating and helping you reap the benefits.  Ask how your project can help them to achieve goals they are working toward.  When they see a return on their investment for their division they will be more engaged in the process and invested in the outcome.
  4. Celebrate – it may sound corny but take the time to highlight milestones along the way, especially if there are successes in the other divisions that are in part due to your project.  Acknowledge the time and hard work others are bringing to the effort; it creates unity.  You don’t need to go overboard but a simple thank you goes a long way and celebrating the success of the group creates unity!
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