Project Management

How to Extract More from Stakeholders

Sometimes knowing all of the things may distract you from doing your job, but does operating on a need-to-know basis really produce better results? In a guest post for the Project Risk Coach, Colin Gautrey challenges you to break down stereotypical beliefs and push the boundaries on what you “need to know” in order to do your job.

Know to Need

Working on a need-to-know basis can be frustrating sometimes because it requires you to constantly rely on someone above you to see a bigger picture that you cannot. It is often in this viewing of the big picture that you can better make decisions to appease stakeholders and make the project a success. Gautrey believes that pushing the traditional boundaries of a need-to-know basis will help project managers better deliver results that elate stakeholders. There are five ways to get beyond the need-to-know basis:

  1. Pry a little.
  2. Play up the benefits.
  3. Acknowledge the challenges.
  4. Make it a team effort.
  5. Be curious.

When someone asks you to do something, try to get a little more information out of them. Ask questions that elaborate on why this is so important or why they are requesting this be done. Often when people ask you to do something they will be leaving some of the information out that could help you better deliver results. There are great benefits in knowing more about the project, and playing this up may encourage stakeholders to expand on their requests.

Sometimes there are challenges with asking someone for something. It may not be possible for them to give you everything you would like to have. Acknowledge this adversity and try to understand their position. You may at the very least improve your relationship with the person.

It is worth noting that a whole team can work together to get more information from the stakeholder. This does not need to be a massive covert mission, but sometimes different people can pick up on different things. Gautrey encourages you to pursue this endeavor with an adventurous spirit. Have no reluctance and be as curious as George.

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