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5 Personalities Who Can Sink Your ITFM Program or Help it Soar

Sep 16, 2023 | By Robert Mischianti

IT Cost Transparency Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting

Every ITFM program has two core requirements for success: effective tactical execution and strong stakeholder buy-in.

Which one is more important? The answer isn’t as obvious as you’d think.

Although it’s tempting to assume stakeholder buy-in will come as a natural result of effective execution, that’s often not the case. In reality, that mindset puts the cart before the horse – because it’s much easier to enable effective execution with existing buy-in than vice versa.

That means it’s crucial to find advocates for your program and leverage their support every step of the way; it also means you need strategy to win over your skeptics – or at least minimize their efforts to hold you back. But in both instances, understanding their motivations and intentions is key.

Here are the five most common personalities you’ll encounter as you launch your ITFM program and lead it forward, as well as how to manage a beneficial relationship with each…

ITFM Personalities

Personality #1: The Detractor

The Detractor isn’t hard to spot; you probably know several already.

Their default mode is criticism, whether it’s constructive or not. There’s nothing they relish more than a “gotcha moment,” and they rarely offer potential solutions when they highlight a problem.

They’re a hard sell. But if you understand the mental triggers driving their behavior, you can diffuse their attacks and potentially make them a valuable asset.

How to manage the relationship:

Detractors tear you down in an effort to build themselves up. When they see others fail, it soothes their own insecurities. Whether they consciously realize it or not, their attacks are an ego-protection mechanism.

So, when they approach you with their criticism du jour, don’t give them what they want by getting sucked in. Surprise them with one of these strategic responses instead:

Flatter them a little – praise their critical eye and how nothing gets past them.

Challenge them – when they criticize, politely ask if they can suggest a different approach.

Kill ’em with kindness – if they point out a mistake, give a genuine “thank you.”

Ask for their input – embrace feedback to reduce the gratification of “recreational criticism.”

Personality #2: The Ally

The Ally is a breath of fresh air. They’re fully supportive of your efforts, excited to watch your progress, and always available as a trusted confidant.

Although they might not be able to help execute down in the trenches, they’re a valuable member of your support system, and there are multiple ways they can contribute to your long-term success.

How to manage the relationship:

The Ally wants to see you succeed, but they often have a limited amount of time and energy to offer. The key is to avoid asking them for too much.

When you identify an Ally, be mindful of what’s on their plate and find low-effort ways they can contribute.

Test ideas on them – they won’t scrutinize as harshly, so don’t hold back.

Tell them your biggest wins – they’re more likely than anyone to spread the word.

Confide in them – they’re a safe sounding board to help analyze areas of struggle.

Personality #3: The Champion

The Champion takes all the positive energy of the Ally and puts it into action. Not only are they excited by your work, but they’re ready to jump in and help as well.

Best of all, they have the talent and charisma to articulate value and drive change.

How to manage the relationship:

Nobody is more willing to dedicate themselves to your cause than the Champion. They share your greater vision; they have faith in your approach; and they aren’t afraid of taking calculated risks.

The kind of support you’ll get from a Champion is a rare and valuable resource. So, when you have one on your side, never take them for granted and do everything you can to maximize their impact.

Partner with them – embrace their commitment to your vision and utilize their help for execution.

Leverage their charisma – enable them to represent and lead on your behalf.

Express your gratitude – be sure they know how much you appreciate their support.

Personality #4: The Incumbent

The Incumbent has just one natural enemy: change. After spending years or decades working under the status quo, they’re cautious of the unknown.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t high-performance individuals. On the contrary, they tend to be the most proficient and knowledgeable people in the organization. It also doesn’t mean they think everything is perfect as-is. Even if they acknowledge the value of what you’re working toward, they simply have too much trouble seeing past the potential risks.

How to manage the relationship:

The Incumbent’s guiding philosophy is, “The evil you know is better than the evil you don’t.” So, the core challenge is to reassure them that there’s nothing scary waiting on the other side of your initiative.

But in many ways, their apprehension is a blessing in disguise. Because as you go through the due diligence required to quell their fears, there’s a good chance you’ll discover critical issues that otherwise would’ve gone unnoticed.

So, when you meet an Incumbent and start to field their questions, keep these things in mind to ensure a mutually beneficial discourse:

Respect their experience – emphasize the importance of their institutional knowledge.

Seek their advice – lean on them for guidance; they have a valuable perspective.

Be ready for their objections – your reputation could suffer if they catch you without an answer.

Personality #5: The Dreamer

Just like the Ally and Champion, the Dreamer offers plenty of enthusiasm and support. But that isn’t their most valuable quality. What really makes them special is their capacity for creativity.

The Dreamer’s thinking isn’t bound by convention. They generate ideas first and think about the limitations later – making them an indispensable resource to discover unique solutions and approaches.

How to manage the relationship:

The average corporate environment isn’t a place where Dreamers typically thrive, which makes them hard to come by. You’ll be among the lucky few if you find one standing in your corner.

At the same time, keep in mind that the Dreamer’s inspired nature comes with a few caveats. They walk a fine line between big picture thinking and wanting to boil the ocean; their tolerance for risk vs. reward is often skewed; and they struggle to differentiate minor speed bumps from major roadblocks.

That said, here are few tips for harnessing the Dreamer’s raw, imaginative power to push your program forward:

Make sure they feel heard – their ideas are a precious commodity, but they might stop sharing if you don’t take time to listen.

Document their suggestions – even if you can’t act now, keep track of any potentially useful nuggets they give you.

Don’t stifle their creativity – not everything they say will be gold, but don’t react too strongly.

If you enjoyed this read, check out the full slide deck – Know Your Audience: Providing Insights that Create Value to Stakeholders.

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