5 Ways to Be a More Persuasive Project Manager
By Michelle Symonds
How often in your shy youth were you advised to be more assertive in your approach to people? Today, just how confident do you think you are in your persuasion techniques? And yet persuasiveness is just as important a skill for a project manager as good time management or organizational skills.
When you look around, do others seem to get a better response to everything they do? So how are they achieving this when you’re not? You know the ones. People respond to them and are willing to go the extra mile for them. They manage to get agreement for a difficult task and get it done.
Here are some tactics you should be adopting to discover the secrets and benefits of persuasion in your role as a project manager.
- Just ask
You’ve got to ask for what you want, or you’ll never persuade anybody to do anything. Request a task to be completed but give clear instructions on what is to be done and what the deadline is. Don’t just assume the team member will get on and do it without clear instructions.
Getting the angle right
Any communication you put out will become more persuasive as you test different approaches. Just see what works best. Try altering the tone of email requests to see which type get the best response; try different types of communication: online project management tools such as Basecamp or other collaboration or social media tools. Depending on the age and inclination of the people you have to deal with in the project team, stakeholders and clients – a more tech-savvy approach may generate a more willing response to requests.
Break the persuasion process down into small bites
Look, if people aren’t doing what you want, can you break that process down into steps that people will take – in small bites? Maybe have a one-to-one conversation or take someone out for coffee or buy the whole team cakes? Try this anyplace where people aren’t taking action.
People tend to respond better to the cosy chat especially when you are asking something difficult or time-consuming. Try it out. You can also help the process along by making each step for them simple to take. Try this wherever you’re having a hard time persuading people to do something.
Use the successful strategies of others
If something works for a colleague, then why not try it out yourself? Cosy chats over coffee may not come naturally to you but as a project manager you will need to develop a whole range of both technical and personal skills if you are to develop as a leader who will inspire others to deliver the goods in difficult circumstances or put the extra effort in to meet that tight deadline. Look at the most successful project managers you know, either within your own organization or in your professional network (if you don’t have a professional network yet then join one). What persuasive things are they saying, and how do they say them? Does it seem to be working? Are their projects perceived as successful and is their career progressing faster than yours?
Hopefully you’ve read something here that’s inspired an idea or plan to help you improve the effectiveness of your project management skills by becoming a more persuasive person. Plenty can be learnt on project management training courses but you can also develop you career by trying out new approaches to managing projects and the people involved in them.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.