The TPM role is highly people oriented and dependent on influencing without authority to get the job done. I talked about overcoming your fear of speaking up in my last post. Voicing your ideas and thoughts is a requirement to succeed in the workplace. It is a key part of building and demonstrating thought leadership which is an essential skill for career growth and building your brand. Thought leadership goes hand in hand with influencing without authority. The goal of bringing your ideas and points of view to the table is to lead others to think deeper and embrace change.
TPMs have to align teams on shared goals, implement new processes to improve efficiencies and juggle competing priorities. TPMs work with teams that do not report to them directly but are directly accountable for the success of the program they manage. This creates an interesting dynamic that can be tricky to navigate.
Here’s 5 actions you can take to get your ideas accepted to drive change and make an impact.
1. Build relationships before influencing
Building strong and trusting relationships is a prerequisite to influencing people and aligning teams. If you do not have a prior relationship, any requests will just come across as transactional. Non-personal communication is a deterrent in achieving desired outcomes. Connect with people at a deeper level and understand them. Help them if needed to build trust and credibility. Start relationships without any expectations or agenda. You never know when honest work relationships turn to lasting friendships.
2. Observe and listen before proposing changes
When you start in a new organization, don’t immediately start pointing out all the wrong things and what needs to be changed. Take the time to understand the historical context and become an observer. Soak up all the information without judgment. Listen carefully on what is bothering people or what is important for them. Be curious and ask probing questions to understand the why. Being a good listener is an important skill to establishing strong relationships.
3. Gather your data before building solutions
Facts and data points are important factors to influencing your stakeholders. When you present information objectively, it removes the room for judgment and defensiveness. Once you understand the data points, you will be able to connect the dots. You will create better solutions that address the true root cause as opposed to the symptoms. Your solution is likely to be more holistic and strategic. Data driven influencing is also useful where you may not have had the chance to build relationships.
For example, if you need to convince a senior leader of your proposal, it is likely that you do not have a pre-existing relationship with them. On such occasions, using data to clearly call out the problem, its impact and demonstrating how the solution will bring about a positive change will be most useful.
4. Focus on them before yourself
When proposing an idea, keep the focus on the person you are trying to influence. Tell them what’s in it for them - what benefit will they see for themselves or their teams. Remove yourself from the equation. You will be biased to your ideas but you still need to present them from the others’ point of view. Start in a place of empathy and try to walk in their shoes. When people see you making a genuine effort to address their problems as if your own, they will be more accepting of your ideas.
5. Get feedback and incorporate it before finalizing the plan
People are more likely to embrace change when they feel a part of designing that change. Bring people along by getting their feedback on your ideas. Incorporate and iterate on your ideas and validate them. It is difficult for people to reject ideas that they contribute to. If your idea is rejected, don’t take it personally and get defensive. Ask questions and assume good intent.
Influencing others is more of an art than science. Different people require different approaches to influencing. With experience you will be able to understand what motivates and excites people. When your thought leadership results in high impact, you build credibility. Influencing will become easier when you become a recognized thought leader.
If you want your voice to influence others, enhance your leadership and communication skills and grow in your career, I can help. Contact to set up an introductory consultation.