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5 Key People You Must Know (and not annoy!)

Key people you must know - angry man

As is the case in most organisations, there is often an unofficial hierarchy in projects. There are certain roles that you really, really don’t want to annoy and should get to know and keep onside. And it’s not always the people you think it will be!

Project coordinators

This one is pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people I’ve met who have treated project coordinators poorly and suffered the consequences. Remember, the coordinators have the ear of the project manager and they really are the power behind the throne. Annoy them at your peril. You might just find your life becomes a whole lot more difficult if you do.

On the other hand, treat them well and they will go out of their way to help. In one organisation there was a business analyst who was really good to the coordinator. One day she was having a problem with another department which she couldn’t solve for love or money. She happened to mention it to the coordinator who had a contact in the department in question. The coordinator made one phone call to her contact and problem solved! If the BA had been horrible to the coordinator do you think that would have happened?

Finance

Keeping your finance person onside is always a good move. I’ve known more than one project manager who annoyed finance with unreasonable demands and poor attitudes. They suddenly found previously expedited payments taking the mandated time to complete. Declined change requests if they needed detailed financial input or lots more money and their dedicated finance person removed from their project.

Treating finance well can make good things happen. I know a project manager who got on very well with their financial analyst. The project ran into a bit of trouble when a couple of suppliers delivered early at the project manager’s request but without finance knowing, and subsequently wanted to be paid before the next tranche of money was to be released. The project financial analyst went to their boss and got the money released so the project wasn’t penalised for late payment. That would not have happened if the project manager hadn’t annoyed finance!

IT

IT are often the object of everyone’s derision. Don’t make that mistake! It might seem like all they do is sit in their office and play video games or spy on people’s emails but treat them badly and you’ll feel their wrath just when you don’t want to. You might find the next time you have a computer problem in the middle of an important job, you’ll wait all day for a tech to become available. Or if a critical cable is missing from the conference room that you get a dodgy one to replace it.

At a previous company, the project manager really treated the IT people well. Think bringing cakes, coffee and other IT-related currency. He was going overseas to visit one of the project teams and just before he left, his company issued computer failed. As in he was sitting in the airport and laptop died! He phoned up IT and explained the situation. They contacted their counterparts in the country he was visiting and by the time he arrived they’d sorted a laptop with all his backed up information and emails on it. The in-country IT people then took the broken laptop and managed to restore the hard drive and put it into the new machine. Some of this work had to happen out of hours but because the project manager was good to them, they did it willingly. The project manager handsomely rewarded the IT teams in both countries. The project manager also nominated both teams for a company award, which they both received. I can guarantee that it would have been a very different outcome if the project manager had treated the IT team badly!

Security

Never, ever annoy your organisation’s security people! They are everywhere and if you’re nice to them, they will likely go out of their way to save your butt. Need urgent out of hours access to the office to fix a problem but you don’t have the right? If you’ve been good to security they’re very likely to help you out. Been horrible to them in the past? Forget it! They have memories like elephants.

At one organisation I worked at, the security guards were part of the interview process. After each interview the interviewers asked the security guards how you treated them on arrival and exit. Treat them well and you progressed to the next stage. Treating the security guards badly meant an automatic rejection.

Customer

This is another pretty obvious one but it’s not uncommon for the customer to get pretty darned annoyed and make some serious trouble as a result. I remember in one company I worked at where a supplier had driven us demented with their behaviour. We checked every single thing they delivered with a fine toothed comb. We made them fix small things that we would overlook in other suppliers. With bigger things we hit them with penalties.

All because a couple of people in the supplier organisation couldn’t be civil.

If you have a good relationship with your customer, it can reap a whole lot of unexpected benefits. A project I was on had a brilliant, collaborative relationship with the end customer. It resulted in the customer placing more work with the company and also a collaboration for a new product.

All of this might seem like common sense and standard good manners. Yet I’m constantly amazed at the way some people treat those they deem “below them”. And are then surprised when those very same people refuse to help them out. Remember people, treat others how you want to be treated!

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