Successful management, both contract and otherwise, really boils down to cultivating solid working relationships. Obviously, the economics of a deal and the business operations of the parties involved are important facets of a smooth transaction. But, the knowledge and skills of the folks behind the scenes are equally important, if not more so. The team members’ soft skills are always relevant to how matters play out, especially when things go slightly awry, which is likely to happen in some form or fashion.
This is particularly true for contracting relationships that often last for long periods of time and considering that circumstances beyond either party’s control may affect progress, such as weather or political unrest abroad. As a result, there are certain soft skills that members of the contract management team simply must possess to ensure success. Here is a list of the top five qualities for a solid contract management team and successful operation:
Contracts tend to contain a lot of complex language, and sometimes even seemingly minor details can have a tremendous impact on contract performance. For this reason, contract managers must have a team that is intrinsically observant. Tight timelines and convoluted language require a keen attention to detail, and management oversights, no matter how trivial, simply cannot be tolerated.
Sometimes the best and brightest individuals are not necessarily the most hardworking. Most managers would likely agree that they would prefer a dedicated individual willing to put in the time and effort than one with high intelligence but zero motivation. With contracts, in particular, a willingness to work hard and get things done, often under a great deal of pressure and with very little time to spare, is critical to ensuring contract compliance and performance.
These days, possessing effective interpersonal skills is essential to success in countless industries and professions. There are very few jobs in which a person is completely insulated from working with others. Even if a position is not client-focused, there will always be a colleague or supervisor to whom a person must report. Consequently, a good attitude and collaborative spirit are crucial to fostering a positive work environment. Again, this is particularly true when it comes to contracting, as there will likely be a lot of people involved in the process throughout the course of the contracting term.
Having a good personality and an ability to work well with others is not the same thing as being an adept communicator. Some people excel at public speaking and negotiation, while others are better at crafting detailed written messages but may flounder when speaking in person or over the telephone. Although an ability to communicate in an effective manner in both ways is ideal, a well-rounded team may have some people able to perform well in one method or the other. As long as the team communicates well internally and ensures that there are members who can do so on an external basis, communication breakdowns should not be the downfall of any deal.
There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than dealing with a person or group of people who refuse to be held responsible and accountable and resort to blaming others or external factors for any issues that arise. Contracting partners will have more respect for and be more likely to continue working with other companies that admit wrongdoing if/when it occurs and take steps to mitigate any potential fallout.