Interpersonal skills are critical to the overall success of project managers. Achieving a PMP certification is the only the first step in achieving career success. The tactical skills of project management are important, as well as having a well-defined repeatable process so you can employ these best practices again and again. Interpersonal skills are what make the difference in the success of your project and ultimately the organization overall. Influencing is one of those critical interpersonal skills.
Who do you have to influence?
- Team members. Unless you have dedicated resources on your project, you may need to influence team members to ensure tasks are done on time.
- Vendors. Similar to team members, your project and others compete for their attention.
- Functional managers. These are the people who provide you resources and there will be times when you need their help in managing that resource, adding new resources, or replacing an existing resource with another of a different skillset.
- Executives. When you can’t affect the project outcome alone, escalating to executives may be necessary. You want to use their time wisely to get the needed support.
What is influencing? It is not negotiation. Influencing requires that you:
· Create rapport with the individuals you work with
· Listen to what is important to them
· Ask the right questions in order to direct the conversation to where you want it to go
· Be aware of body language and respond accordingly
· Sell the benefits of what you are trying to accomplish
· Know when to influence and when not to influence
One day while teaching a class about influencing skills. One of the students approached me during a break and commented “I have excellent influencing skills. I always get what I need in order to keep my projects on task.” My response to him was “Should you have?”
The project manager is responsible for their projects, but more so, they are responsible for the success of the organization. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are for the benefit of the whole and not just the project. Understand how your project impacts the organization relative to other initiatives that are occurring. Influence appropriately.
The Stakeholder Management section of our textbook Achieve PMPâ Exam Success, 6th Edition, covers many of the ways in which influencing skills can improve your project outcomes.
Interested in teaching PMP Exam preparation courses using our textbook? Click here to learn more and/or purchase licenses for the Achieve PMPâ Exam Success, 6th Edition course.