Archives for category: communication

All projects have stakeholders. Some are more “key” then others.  How do you best determine who your project stakeholders are and what you should do with them?

In this post, I will outline a process to help a Project Meeting Facilitator work with a group to identify, map and create a management plan for dealing with Project Stakeholders.

Meeting Outcomes:

  • Stakeholder identification
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Stakeholder management plan
Agenda:
  • Brainstorming
  • Mapping
  • Management Planning
Facilitation Guide:
  • Stakeholder Brainstorming
  • The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is to get the group to identify as many of the project stakeholders as possible. In order to do that we first need the group to have a single understanding of what we mean by “stakeholder.”  For the purposes of this post, we will use the PMI PMBOK definition which states, “Stakeholders are persons or organizations (e.g., customers, sponsors, the performing organization, or the public), who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project.”
  • For larger groups, split the group into smaller teams of no more than 6 individuals. Each group should have a flip chart, markers and post-its.   Post-its are recommended for flexibility at a later step.
  • Instruct each group to take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm who they see as stakeholders for the project. Remember, during brainstorming the goal is to generate ideas, not to debate the quality of the ideas. Each stakeholder idea should be written separately onto a post-it and placed onto the flipchart.
  • Stakeholder Mapping
  • The second step in Stakeholder Analysis is to subjectively have the groups map the stakeholders onto a chart to prioritize them based on how influential they may be to the project and/or how impacted they may be by the project. Each group should draw out the 4-block below onto a flipchart sheet:

  • Each group will then work within their groups to discuss each stakeholder and place the post-it with their name within one of the blocks based on that stakeholder’s level of influence (high or low) on the project – Can he/she/they influence resources, solutions, decisions on the project? – and the impact of the project on the stakeholder (high or low) – To what degree will the change/solution/output of the project change how the stakeholder works/behaves/interacts?
  • As a facilitator, instruct the groups that it doesn’t matter where in the block the stakeholder is placed. This exercise is not a granular one and it does not matter how close along the impact|influence axis the post-it is placed. The goal is to answer whether the influence and impact is high or low and place the post-it accordingly into a block.
  • After each group has completed the Stakeholder Mapping they can report back to the full team. As facilitator, you can work with a larger 4-block and collect the stakeholder post-its in a central location.  This process will allow for the consolidation of duplicate stakeholders across groups. As a group reports back and another group has that stakeholder on their chart they can just remove it and place it to the side.
  • Once all groups have reported out, the central 4-block will have a complete listing of stakeholders and their location on the Stakeholder Mapping.
  • Ask the full group the following questions based on the C.O.C. model:
  • Clarification – Is there anything on the board that you don’t understand that needs clarification?
  • Omissions – Is there anything that you believe is missing from the board?
  • Challenge – Is there anything you want to challenge on the board – something you disagree with.
  • Stakeholder Management Plan
  • Stakeholder Management Planning is quite easy at this point since the group has done the major lifting.
  • Based on the location of the stakeholder post-it on the 4-block we have a plan as to how we will handle the particular stakeholder.
  • Manage Closely – Stakeholders with high impact and high influence can be considered your key stakeholders.  As indicated by the title, your will want to work with these individuals and\or groups more closely to better understand their needs, concerns, etc. You will communicate with them often and they will have a higher level of input into project decision-making. If they are positive influencers you will want to leverage them and use them to advocate for the project.
  • Keep Informed – High impact, low influence stakeholders will need to be communicated with often so they are well-informed as to what the changes are that are coming their way. Additionally, give them an opportunity to provide feedback to the project team so they have a sense of being able to contribute to the changes impact them. Projects are about change. As much as we can manage the change for those impacted by it the better it will be received.
  • Keep Satisfied – High influencers, low impacts are those stakeholders that are not necessarily on the receiving end of the project change, but have some stake in the project. Again, these influences can be positive influencers which you will want to leverage. Otherwise, they may be somehow against the project and you will need to sell them on the benefits.
  • Monitor – Low impacts, low influencers are recognized as stakeholders, but from a project management standpoint, will only require keeping an eye on throughout the project life-cycle to see if their influence or impact level shifts.

He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped. – Benjamin Franklin

Each year at review time, we sit down with our managers and get our yearly feedback.  For most, the majority of the feedback is positive – goals have been met, performance is strong, relationships have been developed. Then there is the “areas for development.” Our ears prick up, our heart beats a bit faster, palms might get sweaty, we are listening much more closely. As our manager ticks off these articles of criticism we feel the sting and we may start to respond defensively or hang our heads in defeat.

Here are some other choices and perspectives we can make:

First, criticism is a fact of life. We get it in our professional and our personal lives. So be prepared to receive it. Consciously we all say we like “constructive feedback” – until someone gives it to us.

Second, try not to take it personally. This is something I have been exercising recently. I was starting to let criticism “in” and allowing it to affect my self esteem. By refocusing and moving the criticism to my actions or results allowed me to look at it more objectively and respond to it better. Then I could ask myself, “Who’s offering the criticism, and are they qualified? Are they trying to help me or hurt me? Objectively, is there any truth to what they are saying?” After asking myself these questions I was in a much better position to respond in a positive way.

Third, use criticism as a learning tool. Don’t just brush off the criticism. Make sure you are receptive and think about what is being said.  Think back on your career to a time when you received critical feedback that you dismissed at that moment only later to realize was sound advice.

We all want to be right, have the best ideas and be viewed positively by our peers, bosses and reports.  Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you have offered feedback to someone in a constructive way and they thoughtfully looked away for a second, turned back to you, smiled, and said, “What a great suggestion!  Thanks.”

[Note: This is the 10th in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

[Note: This is the 4th in  a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What type of words would you use to describe a leader?” This is the question I asked a group of 7 and 8 year olds in the religious education class I co-teach at my church. We were discussing Harriet Tubman specifically, but leadership in general. Many in the class were looking randomly around the room or fiddling with a shoelace or jacket zipper as 2nd and 3rd graders might. But one little girl shyly raised her hand and answered, “Trust.”

Integrity and trust are key ingredients in establishing who you are as a leader, team member, wife, husband, brother, sister and friend. We each have a core value system. Our own ability to live by the value system and make choices – day in and day out, large and small – that align with our values define our integrity and others capacity to trust us.

At the end of the day you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the decisions and choices you made that day. That you did not compromise your values.

For many coaching sessions, the coach will have the client create a list of her core values. I worked on this list and, in the realm of work, one of my core values is to “do what I say I am going to do – every time.”   Meeting that commitment establishes trust with the person to whom I made that commitment and defines my integrity.

What if I didn’t do what I said I was going to do? This did happen recently at work. It was an honest mistake on my part, but to the person to whom I made the commitment it created a small crack in their trust.  Their response was understandable and mine as well.  Even as a result of a mistake, it is very hard for me to act in a manner that goes against my core values.

I’m sure you have all experienced this. When we have really hard decisions to make. The ones that are most uncomfortable. Many times these are the ones that are challenging our core values – challenging our integrity.