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How Project Managers Blow Their One Shot at Credibility


You get one shot at credibility as a trusted advisor. This is doubly true for technical professionals. JD Solomon Inc. provides practical solutions.
You get one shot at credibility as a trusted advisor. This is doubly true for technical professionals.

You only get one shot at credibility and trustworthiness in technical communication. Technical professionals who serve as project managers find it dually difficult. The takeaway is that you can blow your credibility in either the realm of soft skills or hard skills. These are a few pointers for avoiding credibility loss with your decision makers.

 

Soft Skills

Be conscious that anything done for the showmanship of public speaking is also a source of noise that distracts from the signal you are transmitting. Keep it simple by focusing on three major areas.


 

1. Colors

Second, black, dark blue, and white are always effective. Black is psychologically associated with finality and can add emphasis when used with grayscale. Dark blue is associated with calmness, credibility, and a business-like approach. White is a great background and great as text on black or blue backgrounds.

 

2. Data and Graphics

the technical credibility of the presentation often depends on producing it. Therefore, the central question is not whether to use a graph for understanding instead of producing data; the central question is whether the graph is needed on top of the data to produce a more concise understanding for the decision maker.

 

3. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. While empathy may not be immediately obvious, these things may indicate that an exhibitor is empathetic (or not).


 

 

Hard Skills

You are either a trusted advisor, a persuader, or a manipulator. If you happen to be one of the latter two, the irony is that you will never tell the decision maker, but they will sense it. Remember that placing you in one of those three categories is the first thing most good decision makers do.

 

1. Your opinion or perspective

Let the decision makers know early in communication your credentials, role in the decision-making process (including possibly how you benefit), conclusions, and underlying perspectives. This quickly gets the receiver past their natural first evaluation steps and removes another potential source that creates noise for your message. It also provides instant credibility. In most cases, it establishes a sense of rapport between you (the sender) and your audience (the receiver), making communication throughout the rest of the presentation easier.

 

2. Providing partial information

Everyone has more data than they can show or share. The issue is whether the data presented is fair or selective to fit a position. Renowned statistician and communications expert Edward Tufte describes "cherry-picking" information as the single biggest threat to credibility.

 

3. Incompetence

Staying on the Edward Tufte theme, incompetence is Tufte’s second biggest threat to credibility. The presenter must be competent, meaning the presenter must demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter and have some level of practical experience. Buzzwords and jargon are no substitute for competence when addressing complex issues in the face of uncertainty. And for that matter, neither is providing partial information.

 

4. Providing citations that reference only a general source

Providing specific citations shows respect for the reader's intelligence and effort, ensuring they can verify and engage with the information presented. In contrast, general citations can lead to mistrust by appearing evasive or deceptive, ultimately undermining the integrity of the work.

 

5. Remember why you are there

In most cases, as a technical professional you are serving as a trusted advisor to a decision maker. Duty-based ethics requires you to tell all sides of the story evenly and fairly.

On the other hand, you may be there to “tow the company line.” You now shift to a persuader (at best) or a manipulator (at worst) of the decision maker. Remember, some jobs are not worth compromising your professional credibility.


Always ask yourself why the decision maker has asked you to advise them. Do your duty honestly and fairly.

 

Project Managers: One Shot at Credibility

You only get one shot at credibility and trustworthiness in technical communication. Technical professionals who serve as project managers find it dually difficult. The takeaway is that you can blow your credibility in either the realm of soft skills or hard skills.


 

 

 

JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for program development, asset management, and facilitation at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. Subscribe for monthly updates related to our firm.


 

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