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Stakeholder Relationships – It’s a game, play it right!!!

Shop flloor stakeholders talking and shaking hands with management stakeholders.

In the past 15 years of my career as a Technology Project Manager, Stakeholder Relationships have ranked high in the challenges it brings. Stakeholders are those that are impacted by your actions. If relationships are built right, they will make your day but if not, it will be just the opposite, they will ruin your day! As I have been on both sides of this equation, want to share a story.

In the mid 90’s when PCs were just becoming popular, I was assigned a job to train about 100 staff members on using PCs. This was prompted as part of the company’s system automation project.

I was ready, and the PCs were prepared but were the people I was training ready? "Let me find out”, I said to myself. When I walked to their stations, I was shocked by what I witnessed. Every PC was set up with the same screen saver which was a guy with a hammer in his hand pointing to the computer screen, basically breaking it.

This was their way of communicating to me that they hate computers. This was a setback and didn’t make my day. These were my stakeholders and I needed to rethink my plan and build a better relationship with them so that my training will succeed. During that week, I planned mini-sessions to hear them out and understand them better. At the same time, show them the positive sides of PCs and the features that they can easily relate to. This helped remove the negativity and make learning more natural. The result was the successful completion of the training with all.

The moral of the story is that a successful completion of this deliverable for me was heavily dependent on the support from my stakeholders hence we needed to be on the same page. This applies to the majority of our work as PMs and the more we remind ourselves that this is not just about us, the more success we will achieve in creating that healthy relationship with our stakeholders.

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