Project managers work hand in hand with the clients, so we get a close look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. At Fastspot, I’m extremely lucky to work with an incredibly talented group of designers, UX experts, programmers, and generally awesome people, so the bad and ugly come few and far between.

Project managers work hand in hand with the clients, so we get a close look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. At Fastspot, I’m extremely lucky to work with an incredibly talented group of designers, UX experts, programmers, and generally awesome people, so the bad and ugly come few and far between. However, there have been a few occasions where we’ve hit a roadblock: we and our client simply don’t agree. When this happens, it’s often the PM who’s responsible for communicating to everyone in order to work through the issue. These can certainly be difficult conversations to have, but sometimes you have to stand up for your team and your ideas.

It's bound to happen. Not with every project or every client, but there are times when a client just does not agree with a decision that you’ve made (or vice versa). Which poses the question, where do you draw the line? Project managers are taught to make the clients happy, but how do you handle those situation when the client is having a hard time seeing your point of view?

How do you get everyone onto the same page?

As I see it, our clients have hired us for our expertise, and we’re doing everything we can to solve their problems. To do this, we need their trust, and sometimes their willingness to go against some initial instincts. 

It’s never easy, especially if it’s the second or third time you’ve talked about the same issue. For me, the key is to organize your thoughts before picking up that phone. Here are my tips for difficult conversations:

  1. Be Informed: Arm yourself with as much detail and support for your position as possible. You have to understand the reasons you and your team are proposing these ideas and solutions in order to explain and (possibly) defend your position.
  2. Be Understanding: Obviously you and your team have reasons for wanting to do something a certain way, but it’s important to understand the client’s position as well. Ask your clients to explain why their perspectives…. who knows, maybe they’re right.
  3. Be Tactful: Don’t just read a laundry list of reasons as to why you’re right and they’re wrong. Approach it as a conversation, an ebb and flow, a back and forth. There are right ways and wrong ways to explaining where you are coming from… which leads into number four.
  4. Be Respectful: As a PM, this should ALWAYS be at the forefront, but especially when there is any disagreement.
  5. Be Resolute: Don’t give up as soon as someone objects. Continue to support the ideas that you and your team have worked hard on. You’re the expert, remember? As the PM you need to foster and maintain respectful relationships with your clients, so being able to handle these situations professionally is extremely important.

At the end of the day we’re all working towards the same goal, so being able to resolve any disagreement is key to making sure the project is successful and continues to move harmoniously forward.

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published June 13th 2014