Nicknames aren’t anything new. Some people get them, some don’t. Some last for a while and die away, some stick for life. They can be derogatory, complimentary, used to the person’s face or just behind their back, but very, very rarely, are they planned.
Here’s the deal, everyone should have a nickname that is known within the inner circle of trusted friends. This isn’t just for colleagues, it can be for customers, suppliers, whoever. The point is that it is very useful to be able to talk about people with other people, including the individuals themselves, having no idea who you are on about.
The important thing is that the nicknames can’t be obvious. You can’t call John Smith ‘Smithy‘ or ‘Bitter‘. By way of example, you could call him ‘Garlic‘. See, you have no idea how I came up with that, but there is method to it. Its all about additional degrees of separation.
Above all, nicknames can make every conversation more fun, which is very important.
We all know it happens. Someone gets a job then gets his/her mates a job. And we all know it isn’t always a positive thing. Friendship blinding reason, people promoted above their ability or nowhere near their area of expertise. It happens and, to be honest, their ain’t much you are going to do about that.
There is, however, a more positive side to this. There are a large number of good guys who tend to get overlooked for bigger and better jobs because they are too busy getting everyone else out of the mire. Sometimes they can be hauled out of this by their good guy friends/peers and put in a position of more importance and, crucially, more influence. The higher up in an organisation you can place a good guy there better everything around him goes.
You can have a massive impact by using this kind of of positive nepotism. Get the real talent in its right place.
An important thing to remember, even when you are customer facing type of PM, is that one valid answer to a question is ‘No’.
If you say ‘yes’ to every request, every desire, every whim of the customer, you will certainly have a happy customer… …for a while. But when it gets closer to the deadline and you still have a stack of work to do, or you have run out of budget, or you now have every resource in the company working on your project for 18 hour days and weekends, they will start to lose faith in you. And that’s when all those favours you did them and all that wonderful helpfulness and positivity will be forgotten and the knives will be out.
You don’t necessarily need to be nasty about it, in fact in many cases you won’t even need to say the word itself. Just make sure everything you agree to do, will help you achieve the deliverables. And in all cases, make sure you use your big pad of Change Control notes.
But, when you can turn it round and make the person asking the question say ‘No’ for you, then you know you are good at your craft.
Tip: explain to them how much you would love to do what they are asking. Explain how, if it were up to you, you would have no hesitation in doing it. Then when they see how on their side you are, point out to them all the negatives on doing it, such as delays elsewhere in the project, lack of resources, extra cost, etc. If you are good enough, eventually they will see the error of their ways and back down, acknowledging of course how good a job you are doing.