Risk Management

9 Ways to Deal with Stakeholders Who Want Your Project to Fail

In fiction, memorable villains or stakeholders sometimes become more beloved than the heroes who vanquish them. But in the real world of business, villains are just those people who make your job frustratingly hard! In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Elizabeth Harrin explores nine ways to overcome villainous stakeholders and write your own happy ending:

  1. Ignore them.
  2. Concede.
  3. Observe them.
  4. Persuade them.
  5. Include them.
  6. Confront them.
  7. Expose them.
  8. Entrap them.
  9. Realign them.

The Hero’s Journey

The most simple and elementary approach is to avoid this person. It is possible that you can assert your position and be done with them; however, this may prove challenging if the person has a more influential role than you. When the person is extremely powerful and there is no way to persuade them to come on board to your project, it may be time to graciously walk away. This does not need to mean the project is shelved forever. Perhaps it is merely being set aside for a different time.

If this disgruntled person’s behavior seems out of the norm, perhaps there is something larger going on, and by observing them you can understand. It could be as simple as they do not understand the benefits, or they think there are no notable advantages. Persuading someone takes time and is a delicate situation, but it could work in certain instances! People need to feel needed, so asking for their help could be the ticket to getting your project completed. Maybe they will even have insight that will improve the project in its entirety.

Confrontation is intimidating, but it can be successful when done properly. Never confront stakeholders in a public setting, and discuss things calmly and without any destructive threats. This option works best when there is a preexisting working relationship that is healthy. On the other hand, exposing a person is a great way to handle those with an inclination to bully others. The best way to handle this is to have detailed notes about instances the person was in the wrong. This will provide definitive evidence of their poor behavior.

A sneaky way to handle a person is to back them into a corner so they will publicly either have to endorse or denounce a project. Getting someone else to support the project first may help to persuade them to jump on board as well.

The final option is a more passive negotiation technique of realignment that subtly reintroduces them to the benefits of the project:

Ah, that’s more like it. This is the kind of gentle negotiation that I can get onboard with. It involves name dropping them in conversations about success, and pointing out how you couldn’t have done it alone. Get them on the winning team, not the opposite team. This is another take on flattery, really.

You can read the original post here: http://www.esi-intl.co.uk/blogs/pmoperspectives/index.php/9-ways-to-deal-with-stakeholders-who-want-your-project-to-fail/

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