Mastering the Art of Influencing People

In the dynamic landscape of project management, the ability to influence people is not just a valuable skill; it’s a cornerstone for success. As a project manager, your role extends beyond task delegation and timeline management – you are a leader who must navigate through various stakeholders, each with their unique perspectives and priorities. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of learning to influence people, identify key areas in a project where influence plays a crucial role, and conclude with the powerful influencing techniques proposed by renowned psychologist Robert Cialdini.

Why Learning to Influence People is Essential for Project Managers:

Building Collaborative Relationships: Successful projects thrive on collaboration. As a project manager, your ability to influence team members, clients, and other stakeholders directly impacts the cohesion and efficiency of your project team. Establishing positive relationships fosters a collaborative environment, ensuring everyone is aligned with the project goals.

Navigating Conflicting Interests: Projects often involve diverse stakeholders with conflicting interests. The skill of influence allows project managers to navigate these differences diplomatically, finding common ground and ensuring that the project stays on track despite varying perspectives.

Gaining Support for Your Ideas: Project managers are not just facilitators; they are leaders who must champion their ideas. Learning to influence enables you to articulate your vision persuasively, gaining support from both internal and external stakeholders.

Handling Change Management: Projects inherently bring about change, and not everyone embraces change willingly. Influence helps project managers guide stakeholders through transitions, making the change management process smoother and more acceptable to all parties involved.

Robert Cialdini, a pioneer in the field of social psychology, introduced six universal principles of influence that can significantly enhance a project manager’s ability to influence stakeholders:

Reciprocity: The concept of giving before receiving. By providing value to stakeholders, you create a sense of indebtedness, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment.

Commitment and Consistency: Encourage stakeholders to make small commitments that align with the project’s goals. Once committed, individuals are more likely to remain consistent with their support.

Social Proof: Highlighting the positive experiences and successes of others can influence stakeholders to adopt similar behaviours. Showcase testimonials or success stories related to the project.

Authority: Position yourself as an authority figure by showcasing your expertise and experience. Stakeholders are more likely to follow the lead of someone they perceive as knowledgeable and credible.

Liking: People are more likely to be influenced by those they like. Build rapport with stakeholders, find common ground, and foster positive relationships to enhance your influence.

Scarcity: Create a sense of urgency or exclusivity around the project’s goals. Emphasise the unique value proposition and the limited availability of certain resources or opportunities.

Mastering the art of influence is not just a valuable asset for project managers; it is a prerequisite for success. By understanding the importance of influence and applying Robert Cialdini’s principles, project managers can navigate the complex web of stakeholder relationships, ensuring the seamless execution of projects and the achievement of organisational goals.

© Rolf Consulting