It is common knowledge that every project has its own share of organizational politics. As a project manager, you have to be aligned with organizational culture and manage stakeholder expectations and relationships in an agile manner in order to stay on top of the game and make sure that your team performs at the highest possible level.
In a perfect world, all Stakeholders are involved at the same level and stay on the same page, resulting in alignment of vision and safely executed projects across geographies. But in the reality of project execution, things can fall apart when stakeholders push towards drastically different outcomes and unaligned visions.
A management team, client and other stakeholders tend to influence every project in their own way and use their influence within a given organization in order to achieve much-needed project outcomes. This is achieved by a process of influencing stakeholders to achieve specific project outcomes known as project politics.
This is where stakeholder engagement comes in. Stakeholder engagement plays a key role in project execution starting with your team and reaching up to the project board.
But having a project board doesn't mean there are no politics within the organization. A board may make organisational politics easier to manage but as a project manager, your main focus point should be around stakeholder engagements as this will allow for the avoidance of unnecessary risks connected with lack of clear communications channels across the organization and within your project team.
Building a strong relationship with the project board will allow you to stay up to date with critical expectations set for the specific project and elaborate on solutions rather coming with critical project issues/risks during those long board meetings. Moreover, it will ensure further board buy-in.
As part of stakeholder engagement politics, I always tend to highlight the importance of communication channels and highlight how effective they have been. So let us examine some effective stakeholder engagements techniques by using key steps and control phases within a given enterprise.
In the initial phase of communications, planning is essential. As a project manager, you will need to identify key stakeholders as well as stakeholders groups and measure their influence within a given organization. Key points here will be to understand every stakeholder's influence and dependence on the company as this will allow us to understand how to incorporate them into a communication plan to achieve the highest rate of efficiency and cooperation metrics.
Stakeholder engagement generally has multiple levels: pull communications(low influence/low interest), push communications(low influence/low interest), consultation(low influence/high interest), participation(high influence/low interest) and partnership(high influence/ high interest).
The stakeholder engagement process can be kickstarted with the creation of a communication plan which should include frequency of communications, level of stakeholder priorities and effective communications channels. The development of a stakeholder engagement plan is highly advised at this stage along with a list of key stakeholder priorities, measured by level of influence and urgency.
By securing the commitment and involvement of key people within your organization, you can also very often come across stakeholder conflicts of interest. This roadblock is not so easy to manage and quite difficult to resolve. But as research proves, the process of managing stakeholder conflicts of interest plays a key role in enterprise politics. On one hand, it can create a major roadblock to currently in train projects but on the other, it can also skyrocket team performance depending on how well it is managed and organized.
Try to manage your stakeholder's expectations in a timely manner and make sure that they are kept regularly informed throughout project execution. It will allow you as a project manager to have leverage in the decision-making process by giving an opportunity for key stakeholders to communicate their ideas and concerns at every stage of project development.
Informing stakeholders beforehand of any risks with a high priority level will avoid disappointment down the line and will create a trustworthy environment within an organization thus ensuring a higher rate of collaboration within your teams.