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Business is emotional

Business is emotional

Although in principle I would say you should not let your emotions get in the way of business, to ignore their existence is equally dangerous. The main focus of this article is to discuss the issue of emotional behaviour within business relationships before, during and after a project. We used a business coach (Jeremy Marchant) for a period of around 18 months during 2006 / 2007 and he undoubtedly helped us with the business. His main focus was “emotional intelligence” and he now offers a range of training courses on the subject. One of the most important points Jeremy gave us was to make the other person more important than you. It took me a long time to apply the concept, but the benefits have made a huge difference to the way I am able to work with clients and suppliers alike. The key to this is to strive for clarity, remove potential ambiguities and put yourself in the other persons shoes.

One of the most important issues is that, in general terms, our clients just want their hardware and software to work. If it doesn’t, it becomes a barrier to them achieving their objectives and leads to frustration. One of the reasons for this is the feeling of helplessness that we all get when we can’t fix something ourselves and have to rely on a third party. I feel the same when something goes wrong with my car when yet another warning light pops up to tell me about the impending doom!

Relationships model

Jeremy introduced us to a “relationship model” that explained how people interact with each other and I found this particular model invaluable.
relationship model

  1. The “honeymoon” phase is when people first meet and both sides envisage a win / win scenario; they see the best in each other.
  2. Inevitably principles will clash causing “conflict” and it is important to address these head on.
  3. If you can put the other person first, you’ll be able to come up with a “resolution”.
  4. The most important measure of any business isn’t how they behave when everything is going well, it’s during a crisis. They need to show “leadership” and guide you through to a successful conclusion.

I suspect business coaches reading this are now cringing as I have over simplified it, but hopefully for others it explains what can happen during a business relationship. I am sure we have all been there at one stage or another; salesman over-promise and then the business under-delivers. This is why it is so important to set expectations.

Setting expectations

We often experience as many issues during the pre-contract, development and implementation stages as post contract. I think one of the most important things is to set an expectation and this isn’t a cop out. I remember talking to Darryl Bates-Brownsword of Shirlaws and he gave me the following scenario:

You arrive at a restaurant for a meal and the maître d’ says that there will be a delay as your table isn’t free yet. Generally most people will accept this and wait patiently. If after ten minutes he hasn’t come back and showed you to your table you are likely to start getting impatient and potentially angry. If however he returns to say (after five minutes) that there is still a delay and it looks like it is going to be another ten minutes and can he get you a drink in the meantime, you’ll be understanding.

What the maître d’ has done is set your expectations and given you the chance to make your own decision. It isn’t difficult but it is essential if you want to avoid people getting frustrated and angry. Project management is about setting expectations and keeping up good communications between everyone involved. We don’t always get it right, it is inevitable that things go wrong from time to time, but the most important thing is to speak to people, even when it is bad news. It is equally important to ensure the other person knows what you expect of them, so it is essential to explain what you’ll do and what you expect in return and when.

More often than not running a business gets in the way of projects, especially for clients. There is always something more important to attend to and it is only at the end of the project that people start to realise the importance. This is why we aim to explain to everyone involved what and when things need doing. Get that right and you’ll avoid any awkward situations and nasty surprises!

I’ll return to this topic in a few weeks time, but for now I hope this helps anyone involved in a project.

Date: 30/03/2010

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