By Stephen Alfano, PMP®, CSM®
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a meeting that was derailed by a dominating or distracting stakeholder. Now, concentrate on that scenario: Do you remember how you reacted to the meeting going off track?
If you attended the meeting as a secondary stakeholder—in a role like a union representative or a regulator not tied directly to an outcome of the meeting—the event probably made you feel a bit confused or at the very least a little uncomfortable for the person running the meeting.
However, if you were a primary stakeholder—accountable for a project or an outcome tied to the meeting—you might remember feeling like you witnessed a total train wreck.
Regardless of your takeaway, I’ll wager that everyone—except the stakeholder at the center of the disruption—left that meeting shaking their head wondering why someone (anyone!) didn’t anticipate that the meeting might be at risk of being derailed. Better still, I’ll double my wager that the root cause of the derailment comes from insufficient insight and analysis on the stakeholder in question. In other words, I’ll bet the house that the meeting would have stayed on track with Stakeholder Management on the scene.
Stakeholder Management is an essential component in the delivery of business processes or activities.
Stakeholder Management identifies the needs of vested participants and helps rank (arrange and prioritize) their power, interest, and influence levels in context to one another and in alignment with the overarching strategic goals and objectives of the organization, program, or project driving the delivery.
That’s why a project owner or manager with a Stakeholder Management Plan in hand can anticipate and approach disruptive stakeholder behavior quickly and effectively—especially in a meeting.
The key to effective Stakeholder Management comes from a continuous, laser-like focus on the significant interactions between and impact on people—playing roles as individuals, inside groups, or within organizations.
Maintaining a high level of awareness and engagement with stakeholders to assess, analyze, and then align their needs and expectations—often referred to as providing “care and feeding” throughout the delivery lifecycle—is a demanding job.
It’s a job that requires masterful interpersonal skills like leadership, motivation, and active listening, as well as proven project management skills like risk management, negotiating, and critical thinking.
Of course, there are many other skills involved in stakeholder management that I could list here, but I wouldn’t want to get off track. 😉
For more insight on running successful meetings, check out these links:
How to Run a More Effective Meeting
Five principles for getting more done as a team
7 Ingredients for Effective Team Meetings, Distilled from Two Years of Torture
Do you have questions or comments regarding Stakeholder Management including best practices? Submit them in the form below!
About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has over 30 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant—PMP®, CSM® with KAI Partners, Inc., providing change management and communications expertise and project management support services on several active contracts.