BY JOE D'AMICO
Project management on any level can be a challenge. That’s why entry-level project managers who need to craft thoughtful and comprehensive projects—always a tough proposition—will benefit from learning methods of persuasion.
Dealing with rapid change, scope creep, and other unexpected hurdles requires an extreme attention to detail and high degree of adaptability. So even the most thoughtful, detail-oriented, and adaptable project manager can run into trouble if he’s not able to successfully persuade and influence others.
AMA defines influence as the “highest form of persuasion.” But who does a successful project manager need to influence? The sponsors of his project? The project team? The customer?
The answer is all the above. An effective project manager needs his sphere of influence to encompass all stakeholders on a given project. From the big boss to the new intern and everyone between, the project manager should be able to influence everyone working on or impacted by a project.
Project management training tips on persuasion
But how can an entry-level project manager be influential? Some lucky PMs find themselves in organizations where they are the final authority on how resources, both human and otherwise, are used. Most project managers have to make do in a less ideal situation, where they must take risks and rely on their personal influence to get things done.
Here are some tips from AMA’s Getting Results Without Authority seminar on how to influence stakeholders when you’re not the boss. Apply these tips to your project management activities:
- When considering how to best persuade a stakeholder, suspend your concern about the acceptance of your proposal and focus on the benefits it will bring to the organization and those working in it.
- Discuss your proposal with other project managers to generate different approaches you could use to get your proposal across to the most important stakeholders.
- Identify any assumptions you may have about stakeholders’ potential reaction to your proposal and question whether they are valid.
- Develop multiple proposals that could fulfill necessary project requirements. If one approach does not work, have your next approach ready.
- Identify where your proposal has its weakest link and develop a strategy to deal with it.
- Be credible. Never lie or mislead anyone to get your way. Once you’re seen as less than honest, persuading that person to do anything in the future will be a very difficult proposition.
Through a careful investment of time, proper strategic thinking, and sharp communication skills, any project manager can reduce the risk of rejection and become a persuasive communicator.
About The Author
Joseph D’Amico, PMP, is a product and project manager at American Management Association. He manages products in AMA’s project management, finance, and supply chain portfolios.