What to do if you feel you have no influence

Many of us have worked in a situation where you feel powerless. A overbearing boss determined everything and will often belittle or criticize everything you say. So slowly you start feeling helpless and like you have no voice.

Be encouraged: You can survive this! And you actually have more of a voice than you think. Yes I know this kind of situation is a toxic environment and you probably feel like you should just leave. Not so fast! Yes I agree in the long run you may want to move to a company where you feel more appreciated and more able to be your creative self. However, you can have more influence than you think. You just need to do it in a more subtle way, using your emotional intelligence. Below I am listing the main points I elaborated further in a full article on ProjectManagement.com.

Know your bosses:

It is important to know their characters and what they look for in reports. You then customize reports to give them the information they want. Some will be interested in numbers only, some will want more of a narrative, others will want bullet points or tables. Prepare what they want.

Offer to explain the reports in a one-on-one.

If you use a PM software, create a customized dashboard for each with the information they crave, not a one-fits-all. Prepare it on your computer first and show it to them. Then you can set it up on their computer.

Build a relationship with them slowly.

Build trust:

Prove yourself to be reliable. You can do that by sharing reports at the interval they want, without being asked for it. Go and ask them for advise, but always have your solution ready. Ask them for input. Most bosses like being asked, but hate it if you come like a baby without solutions. You can approach it by saying “I would like to run this by you before I implement / send it out / etc.”

Always have the information and updates of your projects at your fingertips. Don’t be caught scratching your head when they have a question. You want to be seen by them as the reliable source of information.

Follow company procedure to the dot. Even if you think it is not working. Then give them a short report of the issues you are facing and ask for a chance to present.

Share your knowledge:

Have knowledge sharing sessions with your team. Ask them to give input. Have lesson’s learned sessions with them. Then repackage the information gathered and present to the directors.

Offer to do workshops / presentations on project management to all stakeholders in simple language with emphasis on the specific stakeholders role. Swim Lane Flow charts are great for that, since you can show easily what happens if the stakeholder does his / her work and what happens if they don’t.

Speak up during meetings with the Senior Management:

Don’t be afraid, but do so respectfully. In many meetings if a boss asks a questions people may clam up, if you are the one who has the guts to speak and your content is good, the bosses will start respecting you. They will starts seeking your advice on your subject matter expertise.

Be humble:

Never become the arrogant no-it-all. That will never endear you to anyone. Humbleness and servant leadership will take you further in the end

Be consistent:

I think that is key. Show that you are reliable.

If you practice these points you will slowly see a shift and your superiors will start recognizing you as an expert. You will find them coming to you for advice instead of ordering you around.

You have more influence than you think! It can be either good or bad. So make the most of it.

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