Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stakeholders management - A human touch

In my last post I dealt with the stakeholder register, I described its importance in project management activities and offered some suggestions for its filling.
stakeholders identification processes are of the greatest importance for a project and so are stakeholders information gathering activities, though this is just the starting point for effective stakeholders management.
In the following of the post I will give just some tips (or I should say some crumbs)  to avoid that everything become too unbalanced towards the documentation part, casting a shadow on the human aspect of these processes.

It is not I and them but us
Usually many of your stakeholders belong to your professional network and in many cases, well, they are your professional network.
Therefore it is extremely important the protection of your relationships and an effective management of their expectations. 
There will come the time in which, as a project manager, you will need your stakeholders help, support  and contribution to deliver succesfully your project.
Try to build and mantain loyal relationships with them through sincerity, sense of belonging, trust, consistency of performance, … relationships that go far beyond reciprocal satisfaction.
Relationships based on reciprocal satisfaction are about what they can do for you, or what you can do for them, if you see it the other way round.
A relationship based on loyalty is about what you can build together.
I have found extremely inspiring about loyal relationships a speech given by James Kane that I attended to the last PMI North America Global congress and this book by Simon Sinek.

They are individuals
They are individuals not just entries in a dedicated register. Group them together according to some criterion is definitely useful and convenient for generic project management activities, but this is just a modelization of reality. 
They are not a group. They do not want to be a group. They want to be individuals and they deserve to be treated like that. They are men and women with their complexities, beliefs, needs and expectations.
So respect their individualities. There is not such a thing like one size fits all stakeholder management and communication.

They are not sheep to graze nor cows to milk
They are people that can add great value to your project and all you have to do is listen to them (well...maybe it is a little more difficult than that...but this is a good start). Help them to express their potential, help them to enrich your project with their contributions and work together to build something unique.

Manage expectations and manage requirements are not the same sport
Managing requirements is about incorporate some characteristics in project deliverables.
Managing expectations has a far more broader meaning. It is about deliver to stakeholders the benefits they expect through project deliverables. This obviously has a lot to do also with your stakeholders needs understanding, project insight and vision, as I pointed in this my old post

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