As consultants and product managers, it is important that we quickly build and maintain credibility with our team so that we can work productively and effectively. If you are unable to join the team dynamics, the work that we provide will be met with apathy or even outright hostility. I’ve learned a few tips to help establish credibility quickly.
Maintain your visibility – Initially, it is important to get plugged into as many face-to-face meetings and conversations as possible. By being face-to-face it gives you the availability to learn more about the project right away, gives you context, and you will quickly meet many of the people who might influence your efforts. Your team can see you demonstrating your expertise and learning about the challenges of the project. They will see you as a member of the group. If you are not able to join many meetings, just being onsite and visible will help establish your presence.
Learn about your customer and your team – Knowing the business issues and pain points of the project team will help establish your credibility. Research the business and the challenges before meeting with your team. Usually, you will have a point of contact within the organization who can share the current challenges, and possibly some of the team dynamics. It’s also important to keep an open mind when learning about a new group. Everyone has a perspective and until you can gather your own impressions, take what’s shared with you with a grain of salt.
Be personable – It is critical to try to establish a personal relationship beyond the necessary professional one. I’ve found that if a new team member can connect with me on a personal level; it goes a long way towards smoothing out the edges professionally. Try to ask your team members about appropriate things that matter to them, like kids, interests or holiday plans. If you do ask, be sure to remember what they told you and be genuinely interested. If you do ask about a team member’s personal interests – Don’t forget the answers. Even if you have to jot them down on a notepad to remember later. It’s critical that you not ask the same personal question twice. People may give you a pass if you repeatedly ask the same question about work related topics, but if they care enough to give you an answer about something personal, you should care enough to remember it.
Be a good communicator and listener – The ability to communicate effectively and sincerely will always enhance your ability to establish credibility. It’s important to be engaging, and build professional relationships. Effective communication can quickly build a personal rapport between you and the other team members.
Never let ‘em see you sweat – This is hard to do in practice but important. If a person is going to have faith or confidence in your ability to get the job done, then you should have faith in yourself. Issues and problems will come up from time to time, but having grace under pressure allows people to feel comfortable that you are the part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Do you have tips on building credibility with your team?