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Stakeholder Stress Causes Tears: What would you do?
Network:456



Several years ago during a rescue engagement related to failed attempts at upgrading core financial systems for a multi-national company, I had the key AR stakeholder break down in uncontrollable sobbing after an alignment meeting discussing required testing scenarios.

Has anyone else had this kind of situation happen to them and what did you do?

P.S. My approach was empathetic but fact based after eliciting exactly where the emotional triggers were and discussing possible solutions. The exchange ended with a hug (after asking permission of course).
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Network:57995



Well, thanks for sharing with experience Cris. It of course can happen as different people react differently but Ive never experienced this situation before in the manner you described.

In such situations, we have to strike a balance and Emotional Intelligence comes into play.
Network:263



No matter whether it was tears or not, it was great stakeholder management to understand the stress felt by the stakeholders. And then the PM can find a solution. And then happy ending...
Network:1150



First of all, any need will put your stakeholders into an uncomfortable state. Is the definition of need. Second, I fully agree with Dominic about the only thing that works is to perform project stakeholder process. And you have to take into account that project stakeholder process has a hugh component of elicitation. So, to perform elicitation, you have to prepare the activity. What I use when I am assigned to project or programs where I do not know nothing about the field is using SPIN selling method to prepare myself and my team for stakeholders activities.
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1 reply by Cris Casey
Feb 17, 2017 7:56 AM
Cris Casey
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Thanks for your comments Sergio.

The SPIN model does work very well in many situations, whether you are familiar with the subject material or not. In this case, SPIN's full underlying "hurt and rescue" approach was not needed. The pain was already established before the meeting, and the only rescue was to commiserate with the stakeholder, promising future efforts toward relief.
Network:456



Feb 17, 2017 7:26 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
First of all, any need will put your stakeholders into an uncomfortable state. Is the definition of need. Second, I fully agree with Dominic about the only thing that works is to perform project stakeholder process. And you have to take into account that project stakeholder process has a hugh component of elicitation. So, to perform elicitation, you have to prepare the activity. What I use when I am assigned to project or programs where I do not know nothing about the field is using SPIN selling method to prepare myself and my team for stakeholders activities.
Thanks for your comments Sergio.

The SPIN model does work very well in many situations, whether you are familiar with the subject material or not. In this case, SPIN's full underlying "hurt and rescue" approach was not needed. The pain was already established before the meeting, and the only rescue was to commiserate with the stakeholder, promising future efforts toward relief.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 17, 2017 5:12 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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So, if you determine the pain in advance the next step is to plan actions to work with them. If you determine that to enphatize with some of them is the best strategy then great. Different people react in different way to this type of situations. And to understand how to act stakeholder analysis is a must but a serious stakeholder analysis. As a complement, in my case, I use the Newton`s Laws of Motion as a complement to understand this type of situations. I have wrote an article for the PMI`s publications that was published on february but in spanish language only.
Network:2625



For this situation, or any other extreme emotional reaction by a team member, empathy is always the best course of action. You said after the meeting, so I am assuming this was a one-on-one conversation, out of earshot of others. Addressing the emotion, being an empathetic ear was a wonderful solution to help the situation.
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1 reply by Cris Casey
Feb 17, 2017 11:01 AM
Cris Casey
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Liana - you are absolutely correct regarding the 1-on-1, private conversation.

I very much appreciate a woman's perspective on this topic. Thanks!
Network:456



Feb 17, 2017 10:56 AM
Replying to Liana Underwood
...
For this situation, or any other extreme emotional reaction by a team member, empathy is always the best course of action. You said after the meeting, so I am assuming this was a one-on-one conversation, out of earshot of others. Addressing the emotion, being an empathetic ear was a wonderful solution to help the situation.
Liana - you are absolutely correct regarding the 1-on-1, private conversation.

I very much appreciate a woman's perspective on this topic. Thanks!
Network:1717



Hi Cris: Thank you for taking the time to circle back with someone who was obviously carrying a full load and for whatever reason their emotions took over. I am sure your caring gesture helped you create a stronger relationship with that stakeholder. It can be shocking to see an emotional outburst at work. We never know what others are truly going through. Project Management skills that are vital for success are being a keen observer, an active listener and someone who is approachable. These are all important soft skills - obviously you are blessed with these things.
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1 reply by Cris Casey
Feb 17, 2017 12:21 PM
Cris Casey
...
Hi Lori - thanks for your kind words. I have worked very hard over many years to be able to truly empathize with stakeholders, whatever their gender, nationality, race or role. The "trick" (bad word I know in this context) is the suspension of belief that despite my role and responsibility, what is happening with the folks who are actually doing the work always needs to be kept front and center.
Network:456



Feb 17, 2017 11:26 AM
Replying to LORI WILSON
...
Hi Cris: Thank you for taking the time to circle back with someone who was obviously carrying a full load and for whatever reason their emotions took over. I am sure your caring gesture helped you create a stronger relationship with that stakeholder. It can be shocking to see an emotional outburst at work. We never know what others are truly going through. Project Management skills that are vital for success are being a keen observer, an active listener and someone who is approachable. These are all important soft skills - obviously you are blessed with these things.
Hi Lori - thanks for your kind words. I have worked very hard over many years to be able to truly empathize with stakeholders, whatever their gender, nationality, race or role. The "trick" (bad word I know in this context) is the suspension of belief that despite my role and responsibility, what is happening with the folks who are actually doing the work always needs to be kept front and center.
Network:8220



Some years ago, I led with the same situation. Imagine, Matrix organization, IT Team arrived, and one of the selected key users should not only perform their daily tasks as Controler also review the master data provided by IT Team.

Then, as Rami pointed, my asset was my knowledge in EI. I was happy to put in practice the seminars about Leading with EI that I attend.
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1 reply by Cris Casey
Feb 17, 2017 3:01 PM
Cris Casey
...
Thanks Mayte.
Network:456



Feb 17, 2017 2:42 PM
Replying to Mayte Mata-Sivera
...
Some years ago, I led with the same situation. Imagine, Matrix organization, IT Team arrived, and one of the selected key users should not only perform their daily tasks as Controler also review the master data provided by IT Team.

Then, as Rami pointed, my asset was my knowledge in EI. I was happy to put in practice the seminars about Leading with EI that I attend.
Thanks Mayte.
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