Project management requires the ability to manage multiple tasks at one go and one of the key ones of this is stakeholder management.
Stakeholder management will typically involve
• Assessing your stakeholders
• Grouping them
• Developing communication and management strategies for each group.
As project managers we like to think that everything in the garden is rosy. We have our project, our schedule our budget and we've set on down the road to deliver it. However one thing that can get in the way of that is our project community.
What is a project community?
The project community is typically those individuals that are affected by our project. They may be decision makers, consumers / users of our deliverable, peers and suppliers. Given that these are all made up of individuals – individuals are often opinionated and have their own objectives and goals which may or may not be aligned with your project
Resistance is futile
In project terms, our project community will typically fall into one of three camps
• Positive about our project
• Passive – no opinion
• Negative about our project
Its unrealistic to think that everyone will be positive and a negative opinion may result in anything from just a disgruntled employee to one that can create a sufficient movement of like minded people that can be sizeable enough (or have sufficient influence) to de-rail your project.
Communication is king
So in all of this the key to success is twofold
• Managing perceptions and expectations
Resistance can result from many things but typically one of the key drivers is fear of change and fear of the unknown. Mitigate this by creating compelling communication that simply and succinctly describes your project and its benefits – make this available to your project community and re-iterate it at regular intervals.
Do not be afraid of criticism learn from it
Project managers are often protective of their projects – and rightly so. No-one likes to hear bad things said about something they are passionately wrapped up in and we can all get a little protective for our own good at times. Do expect parts of your project community to voice concerns or criticisms of what's going on. Try not to take it personally but consider first that
• The criticisms are there because I have not communicated effectively
• The criticisms are correct and I need to adjust my project accordingly
Do feel free to also validate criticisms and disprove them if necessary but do not merely discount them out of hand – they are there for a particular reason so learn from them