A few years ago I went to a work Christmas party where a team karaoke challenge was the main event. I will save you the suspense and confess that we finished in a very respectful 2nd place, but what I learned that night is that there are A LOT of project management inspired karaoke songs!

We came close to winning with AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” but it was a colleagues suggestion of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” that stuck with me and today inspires this blog.

What projects can learn from “The King.”

In the “Speed of Trust” Stephen M.R. Covey wrote “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust – distrust – is suspicion“.

Suspicion as in a feeling that something is possible, likely, or accurate.

Things like…

“I suspect this project isn’t going as well as people think…” or,

“It’s likely that we’re not going to hit the end date” or,

“We might need to cut back scope to save money.”

It’s hardly a surprise that suspicious executives watch their projects like Barnaby Joyce at the office Christmas party, is it?

“We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds.”

When executives and sponsors think that a project is risky or they are suspicious of promises made, it’s human nature for them to try and establish more control in an attempt to feel more confident. Projects I’ve been part of where suspicion drove power through the roof, saw leaders demand daily meetings, set top-down milestones, overbearing processes, and that was just the start.

In short, suspicion brought the project in question to a standstill. Cost’s blew out, and stakeholder satisfaction slid as the cycle of distrust continued with no apparent end in sight.

How could we have gone on together? By establishing trust!

Focusing effort on establishing control of your project is an attempt to gain more certainty. Focusing energy on building trust is about establishing credibility!

It is credibility that removes executives suspicion and fears, not control. Your project needs to demonstrate it’s competence by establishing integrity, intent, capability, and results.



Trusted projects feel under control and go on with executives together. Prioritising controls over credibility is ironically perceived as being less in control!

Focus on establishing credibility, not control.

“Why can’t you see? What you’re doing to me? When you don’t believe a word I say?”

What happens to a project team when they are not trusted?

Do good people feel undervalued? Yes.

Do they disengage? Absolutely.

Talk about executives in less than complimentary terms? Sometimes.

It’s fascinating that good people are chosen to join projects for their voice to then be overruled. Did you not hire them for their expertise and opinion?

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

I’ve already written a blog on “5 Bad Project Management Mistakes That Make Great Team Members Quit“, take immediate action to avoid losing your best people by trusting them!

You will all be more successful as a result.

“We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out.”

With so many organisations delivering projects in-house with permanent teams and partners, being on a particular project can feel like you’re caught in a trap. You can’t leave!


I can't walk out
What does that mean for your success? Hmmm, let me think.
Successful project delivery is natural for people that want it to be successful. People that don’t want to be there won’t achieve success! Help people move to what they want to work on before you are walked out!
Let Elvis leave the building and get on with delivering your success.

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