Project Practitioners > You will influence better if you understand people

You will influence better if you understand people

By Alfonso Bucero

As a project manager sometimes I could not understand all project stakeholder’s behaviors and reactions. However I am an observer and I found that understanding people better is a good mechanism to influence them. If you can understand people you will be able to influence them and impact their lives, work or professional career in a positive way, but also you will be able to influence them in benefit of the project you manage. I would like to share some of my observations with you about that.

1. Everybody wants to be somebody: I never found a person in the world who does not have the desire to be someone, to have significance. Even the less ambitious person wants to be regarded highly and valued by others. In other words, everybody wants to be somebody. Once that piece of information becomes a part of your everyday thinking, you will gain incredible insight into why people do the things they do. And if you treat every person you meet in the project you manages as he or she were the most important person in the world, you will communicate that he or she is somebody to you. You are influencing them. Use that approach with your project team members and stakeholders and you will be positively surprised. I managed a project where one of the persons from the customer steering committee was not empowered enough from the IT manager, so he was frustrated and nor collaborating to the project. I treated him for dinner and knew more about him. I saw many good qualities in that professional that were so important to add value to the customer project work. So I addressed that person as if he were so important for the project. The return was more and more collaboration from him to the project and better relationship with his manager.

2. Nobody cares how much you know until he knows how much you care: To be an influencer PM, you have to love people before you try to lead them. The moment that people know you care for and about them, the way they feel about you changes. Showing others that you care is not always easy. People are your greatest assets and your greatest abilities. The challenge is to keep caring about them no matter what. You may observe that people are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered, love them anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies – succeed anyway. Finally if you want to help others and become a person of influence, keep smiling, sharing, and giving. That’s the right way to treat people. Besides, you never know which people in your sphere of influence are going to rise up and make a difference in your life, your project, and the lives of others.

3. Everybody needs somebody: Everybody in the projects you manage needs encouragement, and help.  What people can accomplish by themselves is almost nothing compared to their potential when working with others. And doing things with other people tends to bring contentment.  People who try to do something alone often get themselves into trouble. Everybody needs somebody to come alongside and help. If you understand that, are willing to give to others and help them, and maintain the right motives, their lives and yours can change. Some project managers have the trend to believe that their problems are unique and the only people who may solve them are they.

4. Everybody can be somebody when somebody understands and believe in him/her:  Once you understand people and believe in them, they really can become somebody. And it does not take much effort to help other people to feel important. Little things done deliberately at the right time can make a big difference.  When was the last time you went out of your way to make people feel special, as if they were somebody? The investment required on your part is totally over shadowed by the impact it makes on them. Everyone you know and all the people you meet have the potential to be someone important in the lives of others. All they need is encouragement and motivation from you to help them reach their potential.

5. Anybody who helps somebody influences a lot of people: The final thing you need to understand about people is that when you help one person, you are really impacting a lot of other people. What you give to one person overflows into the lives of all the people that person impacts. The nature of influence is to multiply. It even impacts you because when you help others and your motives are good, you always receive more than you can ever give. Most people are so genuinely grateful when another person makes them feel that they are somebody special that they never tire of showing their gratitude.

You are a special project professional. Deal with people as if they were special people, and you will receive much more than you gave them in return because people will perceive your positive values. If you want to be a PM of influence you need to spend time knowing your project stakeholders better.

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI Fellow

BUCERO PM Consulting

www.abucero.com



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