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The Art of Taking by Giving

PM ADVISORY

By Alfonso Bucero 

Madrid, Spain
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Project manager generosity is a scarce commodity. As projects grow harder and meaner, generosity becomes even scarcer. As generosity becomes scarcer, it becomes more valuable. As a project manager needs to influence, it takes a long term perspective: generosity is all about self-interest in the long term. It helps a lot to build willing partners, supporters and allies in your projects.

You, as a project manager, should use influential generosity that I would like to distinguish by four characteristics: customized, earned, measured and requested. I believe that these characteristics count because they maximize the chances of the generosity being valued and reciprocated. When we follow the right principles, we can acquire allies and supporters who will help us when we need help.

Let me give you an example that will show how to be generous effectively: When working at a multinational company, as a project manager, a senior manager wanted me to move into his department. I did not know him very well, although he appeared to be supervising and sponsoring some interesting projects. I was managing a critical project in my department and was not very interested in listening to her overtures. The truth was that I had a lack of time to do other tasks. Eventually, he persuaded me to deliver a small presentation to his team on my current project. It was a chance to show off; it was easy to do and I was allowed to pick the time and place for the presentation (easy give). And I was being set up without knowing it.

At my presentation everybody was very kind and flattering. A few days later, a box with a high quality bottle of wine arrived on my desk: the senior manager had done his homework and had even found out which wine brand I liked most. I rarely bought it because it was very expensive. That detail matched on three of the four characteristics of generosity:

  1. It was highly customized to my interests and needs; it showed that he cared. My existing boss had no clue what I liked or did not like, and did not seem to care.
  2. The gift felt like it had been earned, and so I valued it. It was not just a gift: it was recognition of work well done, and recognition is always welcome.
  3. It was a measured gift: he did not shower me with presents. That would have been bribery. I could not get something for nothing: rewards need to be earned.

He then asked me for another favor, helping him in on an existing project…

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About the Author 

flag-spainalfonso-buceroAlfonso Bucero

Alfonso Bucero, DEA, PMP, PMI Fellow, is founder and Managing Partner of BUCERO PM Consulting, based in Madrid.  Alfonso was the founder, sponsor and president of the PMI Barcelona Chapter until April 2005, and belongs to PMI’s LIAG (Leadership Institute Advisory Group).  He was also the President of the PMI Madrid Spain Chapter. Alfonso has a Computer Science Engineering degree from Universidad Politécnica in Madrid and is studying for his Ph.D. in Project Management. He has 29 years of practical experience and is actively engaged in advancing the PM profession in Spain and throughout Europe. Alfonso is a contributing editor and international correspondent for PM World in Spain.  Alfonso Bucero can be contacted at [email protected].