Project Manager Tactics – How to Drive Goals (when you’re in everyone’s way)
Getting busy and important people to stop what they are doing to give you the valuable information you need to complete a project is hard. Heck, getting anyone to do something for you is hard…
Years ago, I struggled with getting my recruiters to connect with our consultants out of the field after we had placed them on a project. Time after time, I would find out about critical events on projects after they happened or after we could do something about it. “Why weren’t you in regular contact with the consultant?” I would ask the recruiter. It was high on my list of frustrations and started to look deeper.
It turns out my recruiters were reaching out to consultants – yet our consultants were not returning calls and engaging with us. It turns out – after we placed them on a project we were no longer relevant. We had nothing of value to offer so they didn’t return out calls. When they did call back, we didn’t get any relevant information. In trying to solve this problem I stumbled across a one of the most important questions of my career…
“What’s in it for them?”
By asking this question we discovered that if we provided world class career and coaching our consultants out on projects were happy to be in touch and we could actively work with them to strategize on methods to enhance their experience and the experience of the client. It has been a win-win for some time now.
As project managers your success depends on your ability to get critical information and time from your stakeholders. Often, your stakeholders view you as someone who is in their way. So when you are struggling to get quality time and information from internal clients look to align your goals with theirs. Here are some tips to discover “What’s in it for them?”
• Look to see how the specific goals of the project will impact (positively) the goals of the manager. Rather than begin with “This is what I need from you…” Make the case for what they benefit of your project is for them and your request is just what is needed to actualize that bigger future.
• Find what else they need – even if it is not related to your project. Often, people are willing to make time just because you have opened up a door. Find out what they need, what they are looking for and what is consuming their valuable time. Look to provide a solution or introduction that can help.
• Open up your network – start your conversations with stakeholders looking to identify what resources they need to be effective and look to make introductions that will benefit that goal. I often find that just offering to introduce someone will open up doors.
• Find an advisor – often stakeholders will not open up with information on what they need. Find someone who works with them or knows your stakeholder before your initial contact. Find out from them what the specific challenges/struggles or your stakeholders face so you can approach them with something that will be of benefit – “I think I might be able to help you with x…” will likely get you the time you need.
Remember the old saying “you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.”