Mastering a Clash of Cultures in Project Management – with Diplomacy and Persuasion
When external project managers encounter resistance
As an external project manager, are you familiar with situations like that?
The project kick-off 6 months ago was successful, and you could hardly wait to show your client that you are even more capable than he thought. As the project manager, you were full of energy when you started your tasks in the new project. Before that your offer had justifiably beaten that of the competition and, as the natural winner, you had won the contract “trophyˮ just for yourself and your consulting firm. You are aware that you have the best ideas and solutions, do your homework diligently and know exactly how you – in the role of consultant – can give the client added value.
Now, 6 months later, you realize that the last 6 months were not the easiest… Every day you invested a lot of time, energy and know-how in your projects. But have you now reached the point at which you had planned to be 6 months ago?
There’s a good chance that this is not the case. That is the point at which many external project managers come knocking on my door. They have invested a lot of energy and specialist knowledge, but the project has got stuck somewhere along the line. They can’t put their finger on the reason and are looking for answers.
I know project managers well and I know how they work. I’m aware of their passion for high-quality work and I really value their performance! Nevertheless, it often seems that this is not enough.
Why is this?
A lot of work is not a guarantee of success
The deadline is approaching, and the project results are not really where they should be. The 10-hour working day has turned into 12-hour working days and even that does not seem to be enough. Your motivation and the motivation of your colleagues decrease while stress, fatigue and frustration grow. After so much work, so much communication, so many meetings, so many presentations and workshops the desired result has not yet been achieved. You ask yourself what you could have done differently?
Working that out is a very individual process. What I can tell you in advance with a high degree of probability is where the problem did not lie. It’s safe to say that it was not personally your fault!
People = the greatest challenge in project management
There are many different hurdles that you have to overcome as a project manager. While technical and methodological competence can be trained easily, the personal level is the most difficult role.
Why is that the case?
When you enter an organization (physically or virtually), you enter foreign territory. You “penetrateˮ a system to which you don’t belong. The fact that you are doing this with a clear conscience and know-how on behalf of the board – or FOR THIS VERY REASON (!) – does not make your work as an external project manager any easier. In other words, the people with whom you’re supposed to be working may not have been waiting for you…
And if conflicts or bad feelings exist in this organization, you’ll be entering a minefield without knowing it. It is precisely then that external consultants or project managers are often brought into the organization. But beware – some of the rules of the game are not transparent to you as each organization has its own culture, which, in turn, makes it unique.
There can be different subcultures even within one culture, e.g. IT ticks differently from production and sales. Sometimes there are several consulting firms involved in the project – in other words, an additional culture. When different cultures come into conflict, resistance within the team and amongst stakeholders is inevitable – a “Clash of Culturesˮ is not a game but reality.
This can often be noticed in:
• numerous rounds of talks in which communication is clumsy,
• stakeholders, who are not “on the same pageˮ or are following different goals.
• Different understandings of what is “urgent” and what is “important”.
• On top of that there are cultural, linguistic and time differences, when members of the project team come from different countries, cultures and perhaps even time zones and are supposed to work successfully with each other to attain a common goal.
Delivering appropriate results under these conditions takes a lot of time and energy. Especially when a particular management ingredient is missing – the certain something that helps you win over your stakeholders, employees or colleagues in the project to achieve your goal. Something that can make your path to success faster and easier!
If you would like to build up mental power in negotiations in 3 steps, you can read about it.
What helps – the art of persuasion and negotiating skills.
This certain something is the power of persuasion combined with negotiating skills. In project management those consultants with a high level of personal and social competence have the best chances of leading projects to their clearly defined goal successfully and in a timely manner.
Therefore, I recommend from the bottom of my heart that you
1) strengthen your powers of persuasion and
2) consciously use the tricks of successful negotiating.
• see through problems in the project, recognize “bottlenecks” and master “Clashes of Cultures” skillfully,
• develop personal and social competence in your team,
• use your communication effectively,
• reach the individual members of your project team even if they are in different time zones and different places,
• strengthen cohesion in the team,
• manage your time and tasks so that you meet your deadlines.
Together we will work on keeping your project team and all stakeholders on track, using persuasion and with a lot of skill and diplomacy to achieve your common goal.You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or +436602400135.
Your Raluca Ionescu