The life of a project manager is a tricky one. A constant balancing act – trying to keep your project on track, to time, to budget, with excellent deliverables; whilst also trying to keep other people happy. No project exists in isolation – there are always stakeholders involved. Sadly, they are not always happy. Here are some top tips to keep them in love with your project:
Keeping everyone happy is not actually necessary, let along productive or even possible. When starting out on your project, consider who your priority stakeholders are. Who do you absolutely need to keep on board? This will usually be your Sponsor – the person who can make decisions, give you authority, ideas, encouragement and even unlock doors for you. Like any relationship, the two of you are not identical but you are in it together. Find out what they need from you, and what their expectations are.
Your Sponsor is not the Only One however. Consider other major players, and the role you expect them to play. Who can inform, shape, and contribute to your project? If they have serious influence over your project, what do you need to do to keep them happy and informed? Can your Sponsor help here? Find out what they love about your project, and keep them close.
Some love is unrequited, and you may have stakeholders who just don’t want to reciprocate. Maybe they stand to lose out from your project or have concerns about the way it is moving forward. Listen to their concerns, hear them out – they may be right. But then again, maybe you just need to break up, if they can’t be shifted. Talk it over with your Sponsor. If you have someone getting in the way, can you set them free?
Individually some stakeholders may have little or no influence over your project – in terms of how you deliver it or what it will achieve. However, there is a collective power that can be gained by encouraging lots and lots of your allies. You can even gain traction by having a critical mass of people who love your project, who can drown out any nay-sayers. Engage these friends through action, information, and tasks. Cast your net wide.
We hope you found these tips useful – and all puns are fully intended. For a more in-depth look at the topics touched on in this blog, take a look at our full article on Stakeholder Management.