Project Management is a unique balance between managing people, technology, and change. In today’s post, we will focus on the people side of things and provide 4 key tips for actively managing stakeholders in a project.
In order for any project to be successful a central point for all communication should be in place. The Project Manager is that point and he/she must be an excellent active listener. Being an active listener means:
- Dedicating oneself to the conversation taking place at the moment
- Fully listening and understanding what is heard
- Gaining more understanding by asking pertinent questions
- Remembering what was said
This is an especially important skill for a project manager to have, as they must take into account dozens of conversations with dozens of people: their development team, the client, and their functional managers, all of which may influence a project at any given time. Listening, understanding, remembering, and relaying conversations properly is crucial to the success of every project.
Any leader needs to have the trust of their team to be successful, and this is no less true with project management. In fact, in a functional or weak matrix organization, trust in the project manager is even more important because they have no real authority over the teams responsible for delivering the product. The client also needs to have great trust in the project manager who holds the keys to delivering their product.
The project manager needs to earn this trust by being present, competent, well-spoken, and organized. We have to earn trust by doing.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Especially when it comes to software development, project managers have to be great implementers of change. We must constantly re-evaluate the way we organize and manage different types of projects and be able to sell new innovation and tools to our teams. We must also be able to sell change to users who may be forced to adopt new software regardless of choice.
Change is good. You go first."
- Mac Anderson & Tom Feltenstein, Authors of Change is Good... You Go First.
Being patient and understanding with users and team members who may be set in their ways is a key skillset that we exercise more often than not in order to get our software to production and adopted by all stakeholders.
Over the course of any project there is bound to be conflict. Whether it’s between team members, between the team and clients, or between functional managers and the team, conflict resolution is a way of life for any good project manager. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting two client stakeholders to agree on a change to an application, and sometimes it’s as difficult as two team members who refuse to work with each other.
I choose to view conflict as an opportunity because I feel that if people are passionate enough to argue it means that they are truly invested and interested in the project. The key is utilizing the trust that the team and client have in you as a project manager to allow conflict to take place and then resolve it quickly before any feelings get hurt. Utilizing the personal relationships, active listening, and trust with your team and clients is key to allowing conflict to happen and directing the energy in a positive way to push the project in the right direction.
Focusing on the four items above will take you a long way when it comes to keeping all your stakeholders on a project engaged, informed and happy. Reach out to V-Soft to ask us how we utilize project managers to ensure success.