It’s not you, it’s me.
Stakeholder management realities we must acknowledge.
Remember that time you had a client that nearly made you apocalyptic? You know, the one who offered vague project goals, endlessly changed their mind, and provided inputs after the deadline. Or the time when your project team wound up with “too many cooks in the kitchen?”
If you’ve worked as a project manager, you’ve undoubtedly encountered at least one of these scenarios.
How did this happen?
I found myself asking this question repeatedly, especially when I worked in the Account Service at marketing and advertising agencies.
I’d be assigned a client, review the original business development RFP and pitch, be provided a core project team based on anticipated scope, then host a kickoff/discovery meeting. Everything would kick off “by the book,” then BAM! Confusion, frustration, misaligned expectations. In my experience, this usually occurs during the Execution phase when it is time to actually produce the deliverables, but it can happen anytime (and multiple times) throughout a project.
Before you meet your team at the water cooler to grumble about your nightmare client, take a breath.
I’ve found that many times when I instinctively wanted to blame my client for project dysfunction, it was something I could have managed more closely, lessened the severity of, or perhaps even avoided altogether.
Here are some crucial artifacts that need to be a touchstone for your projects. These will help you manage expectations and create transparency about roles and responsibilities.
These can sometimes seem like a grind getting everyone onboard, but trust me — these will save you some headaches and provide an objective reference document as you navigate stakeholder management. Don’t forget to return to these documents throughout your project to revalidate accuracy and to ensure everyone remains on the same wavelength.Templates linked below.
- Project charter
- Stakeholder matrix (Another tool for more ongoing analysis is Airtable. It’s user-friendly and syncs with Asana.)
- Meeting agenda
- Asana (Project management tool I strongly recommend. This is also the tool used throughout the Google Project Management Certificate courses).
Here’s the reality:
Stakeholder management is tough! It’s nuanced and dependent not only on relationships and connections, but also on trust, expertise, and individual stakeholder agendas.
Keep learning and try to stay in the mindset of improvement rather than blame others (this is easier said than done)!
Intrigued about the organized world of Project Management?
Now that your interest in project management is piqued, your next question might be: Where can I learn about project management?
If you’re a project manager or a team leader who’s facing such issues, you might want to know about the world of project management where similar problems exist—and are solved. We can help with that.
Project Management Essentials You Always Wanted To Know equips employees transitioning into project management roles with the essential information they need to handle major, large-scale projects. You’ll learn how to plan and initiate projects using the WBS system and how to successfully execute them, with a final project closure at the end. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of these terms and are feeling overwhelmed by their seeming complexity—just read this book to find out everything you need to know about Project Management.