How to Handle Project Naysayers

Atlanta Chapter

Michael is an executive with operations, technology, consulting, process reengineering, and business development experience. Specialties include process design, process innovation, process re-engineering, technology consulting, project rescue, operational turnaround and vendor management.

It happens. Perhaps you became aware during the process of gaining approval for a project (maybe around kickoff), or when it was time for a manager to provide scheduled resources: A project resource—a resource manager, a stakeholder or even a sponsor—starts questioning your project. They may question the timing of activities, why certain resources (theirs) are needed, why an approach was chosen or even why the project is being done at all.

As the project manager, you must always be prepared to deal with these situations. Handled properly, you can even turn them to your advantage. In this article, we’ll discuss each of these situations and lay out some proven techniques to resolve them—and possibly turn the objections into a positive.

The most common situation is when a resource on your project starts objecting to his or her workload, or why an activity is being handled a certain way. If someone complains about their workload, it’s always a good idea to ask them to explain their thinking in case you can easily handle their objection.

If their concern seems valid, let them know you will check the schedule to see if there is any slack you are willing to use to push out their due date (note that any slack you give up is most likely lost to you for the remainder of the project, so be cautious—especially early in your timeline).

If you …

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"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

- Groucho Marx

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