Project managers regularly need to cooperate—with end users, budget approvers, vendors, regulators, sometimes even competitors. But unless your team is vigilant, that cooperation has the potential to backslide into capitulation, where you’re sacrificing success to achieve harmony (or, at the very least, to avoid a fight). Learn to spot the signs that your cooperative strategy might be sinking your team’s chances of achieving project success.
Making concessions to end users. Many user requests are not only perfectly valid, they also often provide your team with ways to increase customer satisfaction. However, there are times when end users’ demands should prompt your team to push back. Carefully scrutinize (and be ready to decline) any request that: is outside the normal approval channels; will impact your project’s budget, timeframe, or objectives; that seeks the release of information considered to be sensitive or is not yet ready for distribution; or could compromise in any way your ability to successfully complete your project. When in doubt, encourage your team members to discuss user requests with the rest of the group. This will allow everyone to voice their concerns and weigh in on potential pitfalls.
Catering to executives’ requests. Similar to the potential pitfalls posed by user requests, the prospects of acquiescing to executive-level appeals can sometimes be a little too attractive. But unless you’re able to incorporate their desires as part of your normal project management process—or if the executive agrees to provide your team with the additional funding or other resources necessary to include what they’re asking for—you might be better off declining their requests. Because executives can exert a lot of pressure when they really want something, consider involving your Project Team’s leadership and perhaps even high-ranking stakeholders if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to make your “no” stick.
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