New projects are the bread and butter of growing companies. These projects can result in significant innovation and smoother operations, allowing firms to garner more customers, expand, acquire partner companies, streamline internal processes and take bold steps forward. However, at the same time, firms cannot just green-light every project – most enterprises have limited resources, and in a post-recession era, many companies tend to be naturally risk-adverse in fear of failure.
Keeping emotions in line
When project leaders and managers pitch their ideas to others, it can lead to a high-tension scenario. The mind behind the plan is often very defensive – as Harvard Business Review noted, an idea is the baby of the inventor. Likewise, the higher-ups who need to approve projects tend to be defensive. They need to carefully vet projects and ensure only the best ones – from their standpoint – see the light of day. To make matters even more awkward, feelings can get hurt either way and that may damage internal communication and business relationships.
When all is said and done, getting buy-in for new ideas can be a very emotional venture. Project leaders and managers need to not only manage their own emotions, but consider the emotions of the higher-ups at well. A lot is at stake when trying to embark on new projects and initiatives and if project leaders want to develop influence in these situations, they need to keep emotions in check across the board.
In fact, research conducted by Harvard Business Review found that some of the middle managers who were most successful at selling their ideas and projects were the ones who managed to deal with emotional investments the best.
Everyone is emotionally involved
As Harvard Business Review noted, being emotionally invested in one's own idea or project is pivotal to selling it successfully. If the person proposing the initiative is not even excited about it, how are others supposed to get on board? At the same time, overeagerness can be an unattractive trait in business and can lead to frustration when people do not take to the idea immediately or begin questioning the merits of the project.
However, emotional attachment can also be a major issue the other way around. For example, say one of the higher-ups green-lit a business process a year or two before. Now, the manager comes up with a more cost-efficient alternative to this process. While this new idea may be better, the executive may be emotionally attached to the idea he already approved. This can lead to some major issues down the line.
Using the right influence style can play a pivotal role in selling ideas to the optimal people. Managers and leaders need to keep this in mind, as it can help them manage emotions and champion their suggestions more effectively.