How To Be A Change Agent In Project Management

Does your company already have a project management process in place? Is that methodology inefficient, outdated, and unproductive? If you have been assigned the role of project manager, making improvements to the way things get done should be your first order of business. Being a change agent is an uphill battle at the best of times. However, there are some strategies you can use to overcome resistance from C-suite executives, managers, and other stakeholders. Here are some tips to get you started:

Talk the Talk

You are more likely to gain support from upper level management if you can speak their language. There are many aspects of project management knowledge that overlap with other disciplines. Communicating in a way that demonstrates your understanding of a peer’s area of expertise will help them trust that you know what you are doing in your sphere of specialization. So, when you speak to Accounting you might pepper your conversation with terms like short term ROI and amortization. Just be careful not to use jargon unless you really know what it means. If you don’t use terminology correctly and in context you will simply end up looking foolish.

Big Picture/Small Picture

Be aware that not everyone wants or needs to hear your grand vision for creating positive change through updated project management methodology. You should develop two spiels. One is for people who like a lot of context. Diagrams showing how project management is related to other business processes and how changes will affect the company over time are useful for these audiences.

Others want you to cut to the chase since they only care about how your suggested changes will affect them or their department directly. For these individuals, a short bullet list of what you need from them is the best tool you can use to gain support. It keeps things simple and shows that you understand the value of people’s time.

Showing Value

Besides communicating what you need from others, you also need to show specifically what you are going to do for them in return. For example, a discussion with the HR director needs to focus on human capital management. This is the time to make realistic predictions about how greater project management efficiency will translate to lower labor costs. You can also seek feedback regarding how your new way of handling projects may impact employee engagement.

For IT, you could talk about how using a particular version of project management software would relieve them of the burden of ongoing development and maintenance. When you are negotiating with stakeholders, be sure that what you are offering actually has value to them. If you aren’t sure what they want, ask. Then, you will know where you stand in negotiations.

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