The ability to garner support and guide both execs and your project team through change is a vital part of being a good leader and project manager — not to mention it’ll make your life easier when you’re no longer fighting flawed processes, tools, and mindsets to get things done. But it’s a tricky skill to master. How do you get the necessary people to agree to a new idea and commit in a way that will result in meaningful action?
Emphasize the immediacy of the problem you’re currently facing, explain exactly what it’s costing your organization, and outline the specific benefit of your proposed solution. Change requires work and resources, so give people a compelling reason to make the effort.
2. Make It Personal
Is there a certain executive that you know is particularly concerned about saving money, or getting things done faster? Who's always using the latest gadget or app to improve their daily lives? If your solution or idea relates to one of these areas, take it to that person. Use those particular interests to capture their full attention and increase the likelihood they’ll not only support you, they'll be just as invested in your proposal as you are.
3. Use Emotions to Your Advantage...
We may like to think we make business decisions based on solid reasoning and rational justification, but emotion plays a huge role in whether we embrace or resist a proposed change. So consider the emotional drivers you can use to bolster your proposal. What current frustrations can you emphasize? What anxieties can you soothe?
4. ...But Cite Hard Evidence and Data When You Can
Point to recent successes your company has had in overcoming obstacles or adapting to change, and use them to both recall the positive feelings associated with that success and as evidence your organization can adapt successfully. Alternatively, you can find examples of companies or teams that made the same or a similar move with good results, and use their stories both as social proof and to provide a vision of where your company could be.
5. Follow up
Once you've actually gotten approval for your idea, don't go radio silent on the topic. Maintain interest and support by checking in with executives and giving them updates on your progress, whether it’s reporting back on implementation options, adoption progress, or the positive results of your change. Plus, by showing how you’re actually delivering on your vision, you’re building trust with executives for the next time you need their support.
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