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5 Steps for Changing Stakeholder Behavior

Bullseye! Having a successful project is like winning at a game of darts…only the dart board keeps moving. In a post for Voices on Project Management, Lynda Bourne discusses the moving target of stakeholder expectations and how an effective communication strategy can mean the difference between a project win and missing your mark altogether.

5 Steps to Bullseye Behavior

  1. Define your needs.
  2. Understand the stakeholder’s needs.
  3. Design a communication strategy.
  4. Implement the strategy.
  5. Assess effectiveness.

Clarity is always your friend. By prioritizing objectives you’ll increase the likelihood of understanding the most immediate project needs, and hence, will be able to communicate those needs to the respective stakeholder in a direct fashion. Once you’ve defined your own needs effectively, it’s time for the tricky part – getting inside the stakeholder’s head. That means considering what Bourne calls:

 …elements of the stakeholder’s uniqueness…national, professional and generational culture traits, as well as gender, personality and “their reality” (how they see the world).

When you’ve established a method for engaging the stakeholder, it’s time to plan a carefully targeted communication strategy to be carried out during planned exchanges. Perhaps you meet them for coffee or by using social media. If you can’t contact them directly, you might need to rely on a network of contacts, your so-called “organizational currency.”

After you’ve given your communication strategy a go, it’s time to step back and assess the effectiveness of your plan. Is the stakeholder now engaged and supporting your project’s objectives? Don’t be shy to really work at building a strong relationship. The alternative is a promising project that falls apart due to lack of support.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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