Project Management

Focus More on Your Advocates

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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Focus More on Your Advocates

One of the fun questions I like to ask on my workshops in regard to the Relationship Stakeholder Map is, “Which quadrant should you spend most time on?”

Fun, because most of the people quite naturally focus on fixing the problem areas, working to overcome opposition, root out adversity and clear through the roadblocks.

A few wise ones respond that most time should be spent with their Advocates.

It is quite natural to try to fix the problems stakeholders present, that’s what you’re paid for isn’t it?

But, the very best way to do that is to enlist the support of your supporters. Mobilise their energy and effort to your cause. Advocates are on-side and you have a good relationship with them. Since they are on-side, quite likely they will also be a major beneficiary when you succeed. 

Which means they will likely be quite willing to lend a hand. To spend time helping you plan your moves, develop your strategy, or even getting more personally involved. Remember, that while you may have a strained relationship with another stakeholder, your advocate may get on well with them and can influence on your behalf.

Aside from leveraging greater influence by working more closely with your advocates, you will also benefit by avoiding the risk that their support may wane. In the turbulent political environment, alliances can change and it is important that once you have gained agreement, you work to keep it.

And actually, you’ll probably enjoy your work more too. Trying to engage with enemies can be soul destroying, stressful and demoralising. You cannot ignore these people, but you can work with others to lessen the risk they pose, and increase your chances of winning through.

More on this Topic

Review the OnDemand webinar Strategic Influencing for Project Managers

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Posted on: August 23, 2019 07:59 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Thank you, Colin. Your words have spun new thoughts for me. I believe you are right!

Great insight! thank you for sharing!

Colin, great subject and insight on how to establish some better relationships.

Its one of the areas that I have spend time with each of my project team member talking about. It really is more than just managing expectations, its building a real relationship with the customer/stakeholder so that you understand what is really important to them. Honestly it may not be the total fulfillment of every project goal, it may be significantly more that or significantly less. Only by understanding them and by supporting their end state goals can we genuinely make them our advocates.

Totally agree @Jochen - I little while ago I was interviewed by a PM website about how to give bad news to stakeholders. My main point was that if you get the relationship building right at the start, you don't have to give bad news, just news/updates and usually comms. Then you can work on problems solving etc. And also, what may appear to be bad news to the PM may not actually be bad news to the stakeholders perspective, but the PM will only know that if they know the stakeholder!

Thanks for your contribution Jochen.

Great advice on stakeholder management and communication.Thank you

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