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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to develop effective professional relationships

We all know how important it is to build effective professional relationships. Relationship management is a very important skill for every professional that wants to get ahead. This article will focus on how effective relationship management helps the CIO to get ahead.

The top IT job is very complex and demanding, effective relationship management enables the CIO to build rapport with his/her peers and will most certainly make the job of managing IT much easier.

Before proceeding, it is important to define what the term "effective professional relationships" means. The CIO should spend most of his time interacting with his peers in order to understand the organization's needs and provide adequate IT solutions. Furthermore, the CIO needs to be able to convince other members of the organization that a particular IT project will deliver positive outcomes to the business. Effective relationship management are the ones that enable the CIO to effectively interactive with every member of the organization in order to enable him to achieve his objectives.

The following points provide useful insights on how to develop effective professional relationships.

Know your company and the people you work with

 

This should go without saying, but it is really important that CIOs know their business. What I find interesting about IT management is how broad the role really is. As an example, a Supply Chain Manager is required to know all about supply chain.He is not meant to know anything about how to operate the email server. However, the IT Manager, the one who wants to do a good job, is required to know not only about IT but also about every other area of the business. Obviously the IT manager is not required to know everything  in detail, however he needs to know enough about every area of the business in order to have systems in place that support the various business processes. I find this quite interesting and is what makes the job so interesting.


As the head of IT you need to know the vision and mission of the organization, the products it sells or the services it provides, how it makes money, how it spends money, the competition, the industry, etc... The list is quite long and varies depending on the nature of the organization. The point here is to know everything you can about your business in order to enable you to be a valuable member of the board and/or the senior management team.

I have heard many IT managers complaining that they don't get a chair in the company board of directors and/or don't have opportunities to participate in strategic meetings. Maybe the reason that happens is because the CEO, CFO and other members of the organization perceive the CIO as only a technical resource. That limits the effectiveness of IT. The CIO needs to not only know the organization but he also needs to show to the other members of the senior management team that he can positively contribute to non-technical discussions.

Build a good track record

 

This really means do what you said you would do. Honor your commitments.  Your peers should be able to trust you. Ensure to deliver on every deadline. If you know you will not be able to get something done speak to everyone involved as soon as you can. People will trust you because you always do what you say.

Having a good track record will help you to build a good reputation and nothing is more important than a good reputation.

Quote your peers whenever you can

 

This is quite powerful. When giving credit to someone, you are giving someone else a good reputation. This is especially powerful if the person is present in the conversation. They will always be thankful to you and are likely to return the favor.

Think about it the other way. If you take someone's idea and quote it as your own, you are actually robbing them a reputation they deserve. Worse still, remember that people talk in organizations and that particular idea you are taking ownership may have already been discussed so others might know whose idea that is. People may pick up on it and it can actually destroy your reputation.

Quoting your peers, positively that is, will go a long way in building rapport with them.

Discuss your concerns directly with the people involved

 

It is very important to raise your concerns with the people that are involved in it. Say for example that you have a concern about a particular business practice related to complaint handling. You will look really bad if you approach your boss, especially if he/she is the CEO. The best option is to organize a meeting and raise it directly with the relevant people and not only raise issues but also propose solutions.

However, it is easy for IT managers to be perceived as nosy and wanting to solve someone's problem, or even worse. You need to be careful about the reasons you are raising the issue and try to make it relevant to IT as well. It is not a good idea to say that complaints are not been handled effectively unless your issue relates to IT and you can provide some sort of solution.

Be professional, speak calmly, accurately and concisely

 

In order to build good, professional relationships, it is important to be professional and consistent at all times. Your emotions should not dictate how you react to an issue. There is nothing worse than knowing that you have to deal with someone but you never know how that person will react because he/she has a reputation of being unstable.

Ensure to always be professional, polite and accurate. Most importantly, do not lie. Others can probably see through you so don't even think about it.

Ask insightful questions and encourage a response

 

There is nothing worse than being in a meeting with someone who keeps on asking irrelevant questions and is always interrupting others before they finish talking. It is annoying and a waste of everyone's time. Make sure you are not the one making those mistakes.

It is impossible to plan for every interaction with your peers, however when attending meetings, ensure that you know thoroughly the topic at hand and only ask meaningful and insighful questions. Don't waste anyone's time.

Listen to what people are saying

 

Have you ever been in a conversation and got the feeling that the other person was just not listening? This is even worse if it happens at work. When talking to someone or participating in a meeting, make the other people you are talking to feel that they are the most important people in the world. Give them your full attention, be interested in what they are saying, value what they are saying even if you think they are wrong.

It is only when you really listen to people that you are able to ask meaningful questions and have positive interactions.

Many other points could be raised on this topic, however the list above provides a good summary on ho to go about building effective professional relationships.

1 comment:

Tom Burgen said...

IT sphere occupies a large share of the market at the moment, especially mobile development. So I agree that the relationship with customers plays important role. I worked with Inrellectsoft company (website) which provides mobile app development for business and I was convinced that a professional team - this is very important. I got a really great mobile app for my business