Trust and Credibility with Your Partners: Why and How to Build It
Authentic partnerships are built from a foundation of trust and credibility. Establishing trust and credibility in business relationships is crucial to building successful partnerships. It is important to acknowledge the significance of these qualities when interacting with others to promote open communication and mutual understanding. Maintaining these traits requires consistent effort, transparency and a shared commitment. Stakeholders are the people who have an interest or influence in your project, such as clients, sponsors, team members, vendors, and senior management. They can make or break your project, so it’s important to build trust and credibility with them from the start.
But how do you do that? How do you establish rapport, manage expectations, and demonstrate value to your stakeholders? Here are some tips to help you, along with some examples of how to apply them in practice:
- Identify your stakeholders and their needs. The first step is to identify who your stakeholders are and what they want from your project. You can use a stakeholder analysis tool to map out their level of interest, power, and influence, as well as their expectations, concerns, and communication preferences. This will help you tailor your approach and message to each stakeholder group.
For example, you can create a stakeholder register that lists the names, roles, contact details, and other relevant information of your key stakeholders. You can also conduct interviews, surveys, or workshops to gather more insights into their needs and expectations.
- Communicate frequently and transparently. The second step is to communicate regularly and openly with your stakeholders. You should keep them informed of the project status, progress, risks, issues, and changes. You should also solicit their feedback and input, and address any questions or concerns they may have. You should use the communication channels and methods that suit them best, such as email, phone, meetings, reports, dashboards, etc. You should also document and archive your communication for future reference.
For example, you can create a communication plan that specifies the frequency, format, content, and audience of your communication activities. You can also use tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack to facilitate real-time communication and collaboration with your stakeholders.
- Deliver on your promises. The third step is to deliver what you said you would deliver when you said you would deliver it. You should follow through on your commitments and meet or exceed your stakeholders’ expectations. You should also report on your achievements and celebrate your milestones. This will show your stakeholders that you are reliable, competent, and trustworthy.
For example, you can use project management software like Asana or Trello to track and manage your tasks and deliverables. You can also use a dashboard or a report to showcase your results and impact on your stakeholders.
- Be honest and ethical. The fourth step is to be honest and ethical in your dealings with your stakeholders. You should not hide or sugarcoat any bad news or problems that may arise in your project. You should also not make any false or unrealistic promises or claims that you cannot back up. You should admit your mistakes and take responsibility for them. You should also respect your stakeholders’ opinions and values, and avoid any conflicts of interest or unethical behavior.
For example, you can use a risk register or an issue log to document and communicate any potential or actual problems that may affect your project. You can also use a change request or a change log to document and communicate any changes that may impact the scope, schedule, budget, or quality of your project.
- Build relationships and rapport. The fifth step is to build relationships and rapport with your stakeholders. You should not treat them as mere transactions or numbers but as human beings with emotions and personalities. You should show genuine interest in them and their needs, and empathize with their challenges and frustrations. You should also use humour, stories, compliments, and common ground to connect with them on a personal level. You should also express gratitude and appreciation for their support and contribution.
For example, you can use a stakeholder engagement plan to identify and implement strategies to increase the level of engagement of your stakeholders. You can also use a recognition plan to identify and implement ways to reward and recognize your stakeholders for their efforts.
By following these tips and applying them in practice, you can build trust and credibility with your stakeholders, which will lead to better collaboration, cooperation, and outcomes for your project.