I realize that the title of this blog sounds contrary to what I have written, said and talked about in the past. Indeed building relationships with your project team is the best way to motivate the team. But like anything else, too much of a good thing can be a problem. It is possible to die from an oxygen overdoes!
Key success for a project manager means keeping tasks on schedule and holding those responsible for those tasks to account. When a project manager gets too friendly with a team member they may allow items to slip that could lead to the demise of the project. This becomes a tough balancing act of trust, friendship and accountability. Our closest friends are typically those that we trust the most. Often these are the people that have consistently delivered on time. However, giving these people too much rope can also lead to failed deliveries.
When dealing with good friends on a project we need tough love. We most hold ALL members of the team to the highest standards. Sometimes working with our closest companions makes this difficult. Having accountability to one another is a two-way street. This type of accountability can actually strengthen a friendship versus straining a friendship. Some of my nearest and dearest friends from the past are those who challenged me and vice versa. These challenges to our accountability made us better in the long run and in that way strengthened our relationships.
As you increase your kinship with those on your project team, do not let up on their accountability to the project. If they are true friends your friendship will increase. If they pull back then their friendship was merely superficial. Don’t allow your friendships to get in the way of success.