You are busy, and so are your stakeholders.
Getting them on board with your ideas, liaising with them to resolve issues, all takes time. It also helps a great deal if you get on well with them. Effective working relationships smooth over the inevitable problems and challenges that need to be dealt with.
Trouble is, it is far too easy to irritate them.
You are in a hurry and time is of the essence. But, as you push things forward, try to make sure and avoid these common irritants.
- Making life difficult. Sure, you’ve got problems with your project and you need your stakeholder to get involved. But, being argumentative, critical or overly challenging isn’t going to help the situation. Instead, make sure to adopt a constructive attitude and be a delight to work with. That will speed things up no end, and you can have fun in the process.
- Failing to prepare. Getting in to see key stakeholders is often very difficult. When you do, make sure that you have thought everything through carefully and done your homework. Being sent away to find answers means you will have to disturb them again later.
- Throwing problems at them. Stakeholders are busy people – they have plenty of other plates spinning. If all you are doing it throwing more problems at them, they may well decide to de-prioritise you and get on with something else. Instead, make sure you have solutions or at least some constructive ideas on how to make things happen.
- Being petulant. If you are struggling to get things done, and need the help of your stakeholder, make sure and avoid being sulky, bad tempered or pestering. So, try to stay cheerful and optimistic that you will soon break through the roadblock.
- Lacking clarity. When you want something from your stakeholder, make it crystal clear exactly what you want them to do. Being vague or ambiguous means they have to work hard to understand what it is that you want. Don’t keep them guessing, spell it out.
- Failing to follow through. If they have given you time and attention, don’t let them think they have wasted their time. Make sure you keep your commitment and demonstrate you’ve made things happen.
- Avoiding responsibility. Taking problems and issues to a stakeholder is fine. But, if they notice you are not recognising and accepting your contribution to it, it won’t help you. In most cases, there is likely to have been something you could have done differently to avoid or lessen the problem you are now grappling with. Be bold and hold your hands up if necessary.
There is one more. Perhaps this is a pet hate of mine.
Asking for a minute and taking half an hour. You may not have thought about it, but if you are using this line you are establishing a reputation for deceit. I’m serious here.
Busy stakeholders need to manage their time. If they are being interrupted they need to know how long you need. Asking for a minute leaves them guessing and with so many plates spinning the element of uncertainty means they have to work harder.
So, do yourself a favour and be more accurate about the time you need. Then stick to it. In the long run, you’ll build a much stronger relationship and it will also improve your preparation.
All of the above can be very annoying to stakeholders, especially if you have made them habitual.
Avoiding them takes just one thing – presence of mind. Oh, and perhaps a little discipline and process too.