Project Management

Are You Aggravating Your Stakeholders

From the An Influential Project Manager Blog
Today, more than ever, a project manager needs to be an influencer. The purpose of this blog is to stimulate your journey towards greater influence. With influence, you can overcome the roadblocks thrown in your way, overcome opposition, align stakeholders and, enjoy your role even more. However, since I know you are busy, the posts here will be short (about a minute), thought provoking and also drive you towards action. Feel free to connect with me, ask me questions, and share what's good here.

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Strangely, when I notice someone struggling to get their stakeholders to engage with them, to respond to their messages, it always seems to be the fault of the stakeholder, not the individual trying to get their attention. 

They never seem to have time.” “Got their priorities all wrong.” “Just interested in their personal agenda.” To name but a few (excuses).

Now, I know you are not one to make excuses. I’m sure you take full responsibility for the way you may be contributing to the problem, and do something about it. 

Unlike others you know who may be innocently aggravating their stakeholders into avoiding them. By doing things like:

  • Making Life Difficult. For instance, moaning all the time, asking for them to do unnecessary things, giving them far too much to read with little lead time.
  • Failing to Prepare. Turning up not able to answer even their most obvious questions. Repeatedly saying, “I’ll get back to you on that one.”
  • Throwing Problems at Them. Finding fault is easy. Highlighting them without having solutions to offer is another way of making life difficult for others. 
  • Being Petulant: “Oxford English Definition: Childish, sulky, bad-tempered.” No, not you, but I bet you see others acting like this.
  • Lacking Clarity. “Will you just get to the point?” Experts are great at giving far too much information, presenting all the pros and cons and the minute detail. Help them make a quick decision.
  • Failing to Follow Through. Ah yes. I’m told that even qualified project managers can let things slip, especially on the trivial actions that are not part of the plan, but are very important to stakeholders.
  • Avoiding Responsibility. Yes, it happens, but usually down to a lack of clarity about who is accountable for what, in the mind of the stakeholder. 

Can you think of other ways project managers you know may be aggravating their stakeholders? Well, you may like to share this with them and help them work out ways to make it as easy as possible for stakeholders to engage with them. Perhaps even engage your coaching and counselling skills?

I’ll leave this with you then.


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Posted on: July 26, 2019 07:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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To me it all boils down to are you exercising emotional intelligence and taking the needs of the stakeholder in mind and actively manage the stakeholders through out the project?

Interesting points, thanks. What would you do when it is the Stakeholder that is aggravating the situation? Let say you are applying those recommendations and still have difficulty with a stakeholder.

HI Sam, absolutely right, the important/powerful stakeholders need close engagement throughout, and even before too if possible. A key idea is that the evolving role of the PM is to actively manage consensus throughout the life cycle of the project as the various agendas ebb and flow around the project.
Two points Vincent, firstly, make sure that your are seeing what you think you are seeing. Oft time ones perception is biased - so keep an open mind. The other thing I would say is that if they really are being difficult, there will be a reason for it that to them is quite legitimate (be it logic of emotion). If all you can see is the difficult / aggravating behaviour you need to find a way behind the distraction to root out the cause, and that usually only comes when you have established the appropriate level of trust.

Interesting approach for manage Stakeholders in an appropriate manner.

Managing stakeholders is very key. They own the process we just implement. We need to give it all our best shot. Never wait for a stakholder to connect with you, you must enagage them regardless of the difficulties

Thanks, for the suggestion. It was not my situation, but I know the level of trust could never be achieved. Project Ended in a court of law. I agree to find the driving force being the difficult relation would be key to the solution.

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