Negotiating skills for a project manager are crucial and improving them will set the foundation for a successful project.
- What is the negotiation in a project
- Why negotiation is important for project managers
- Improving project manager’s negotiating skills
- 1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice
- 2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation
- 3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions
- 4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time
- 5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen
- The importance of negotiating: conclusions
Project managers hold different roles at the same time: leaders, intermediaries, delegators and even negotiators.
What is the negotiation in a project
Negotiation is a process consisting of the activities necessary to resolve different types of disputes through consultations between the parties involved in order to reach a consensus.
Negotiations can take place at any time in the project lifecycle and may be formal or non-formal.
Formal negotiation implies an agreement through contracts and formal documents, while informal negotiations include debates to resolve a conflict between team members, for instance.
In project management, the negotiation process is divided into phases and include:
- Planning: the preparation of all relevant information necessary for the discussion.
- Debate: here the key issues are examined and discussed.
- Proposal: the creation of the proposal as a way of solving the problem presented.
- Revision: this can include negotiating compromises before an agreement is formalized and before the information is shared throughout the organization.
Why negotiation is important for project managers
Here are some situations where negotiating skills play a key role in the success of a project. Cases in which the project manager:
- is engaged in strategic negotiations with suppliers of goods and tools necessary for the execution of the project.
- is engaged in negotiating with a potential investor in a new project.
- is engaged in negotiations with stakeholders regarding a substantial change in the project.
Ultimately, negotiating skills enable project managers to achieve stronger relationships with stakeholders, better relationships with clients and, in general, a more positive working environment.
Negotiating can also be a useful strategy for dealing with conflicts on a project.
While it is almost impossible to avoid conflict entirely, being able to negotiate the way around it is a useful skill.
Improving project manager’s negotiating skills
1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice
The very first thing to do, as happens in all things, is to practice a lot.
Probably everyone negotiates more than they think – both in their professional life and in their private life.
2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation
It is important to spend some effort on preparation for negotiation.
If a project manager knows they are meeting a supplier, for example, they should think in advance about what they want to achieve from this agreement and explore potential alternatives.
This way you will engage in the discussion more confidently and know in advance what you want to achieve.
However, it is important to remember to remain receptive to other people’ points of view as well.
3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions
Conflict situations and negotiations often expose the worst in people.
4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time
Negotiations can take a long time and be running on a continuous basis; it is unlikely that in a single meeting, everything will be discussed and resolved.
For large projects, multiple meetings could be held to ensure that everything is documented effectively and to the satisfaction of both parties.
5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen
When preparing for a negotiation, you need to try your best to think about what you want to say, how to say it, how to reply to what you think the other person will say.
Simply put, a project manager must also be ready to listen.
Listening will help you identify the other party’s weaknesses and help you really understand what others want.
The importance of negotiating: conclusions
Ultimately, negotiation is an excellent project management tool and is critical to getting the best out of any situation.
Negotiation goes beyond reducing or increasing the price of an offer and is a necessary tool in the daily activities of the project manager.
Like all soft skills, knowing how to hold engaging conversations that translate into good results for both parties is something that can always be improved over time.
With the right knowledge, structures and techniques, any project manager will be able to approach negotiations knowing how best to target the project and the organization in general.