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Trust: Your 6th Sense of Project Management
By Mike Boyer Smith

Think about the people you manage – do you trust them to deliver? Chances are you know you can rely on most of them, but then there’s one who always misses their deadlines, or needs constant pushing…

For those who don’t deliver so reliably, there are four possible reasons why they’re not performing:

  1. They’re not committed to meeting your expectations.
  2. They don’t know what your expectations are.
  3. They don’t have the skills to deliver.
  4. They’re not motivated.

While it may seem like number one is always the cause, it may be one of the other reasons, and you can control these by exercising your communication skills.

So increasing your trust in them is as much about what you can do as what they can do.

However, you can use decreasing trust as a trigger to check your management approach. When you feel your trust in a colleague’s ability to deliver starting to fall:

  • Discuss their understanding of your expectations and make sure you’re both working towards the same goal.
  • Ascertain whether they have the ability to deliver to these expectations – if not, get them skilled up or assign the task to a colleague who does have the appropriate skills.
  • Discuss their motivations for the task and negotiate if necessary/appropriate.
  • Ask them to commit to the task.

You’ll create an environment where everyone is clear on what needs to be done, confident they can do it and motivated to do it. This is good for your projects, great for your workload and excellent for team morale.

Mike Boyer Smith has over 17 years’ professional experience in systems engineering and software development. Over this time Mike has worked as a systems engineer, software developer, project manager, consultant and business manager.

For the last few years, Mike has been Managing Director of a leading Sydney-based software systems engineering business and is a regular guest lecturer on Theory of Constraints, program management and Critical Chain Project Management for the Macquarie Graduate School of Management’s MBA course.

Mike now runs coaching programs for organisations and individuals who are pursuing project management excellence. He blogs his thoughts and insights at

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