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VOICES ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT
When there’s no time to lose, follow these four tactics to remain in your primary
stakeholder’s good graces. BY BRIAN MCCURTIS, PMP
It’s Monday morning and you’re greeted with a seven-minute voicemail from your primary stakeholder pointing out several critical issues that remain unresolved. Your excuses aren’t
cutting it, and he or she suggests a “status call.”
You know what that means.
After a forceful exhale and a jolt of coffee, you
start thinking about your response—which will
surely dictate how the rest of your week will
If you still plan on attending that networking
cocktail event on Thursday, you need to get moving.
1. Act fast—and make it personal.
Make sure you follow up within an hour of receiving a distress signal from a primary stakeholder.
Don’t waste time formulating a 400-word e-mail
addressing each point. E-mails are too informal, and
context is key. Reach for your mobile. Or better yet,
put in some face time. Your physical presence can
speak volumes about your dedication to the issues
and the stakeholder.
2. Don’t walk in with solutions.
Upon first contact, you need to idle that proactive
brain of yours.
No matter how many status reports or action
plans you submit, sometimes stakeholders simply
need to be heard. Be prepared to sit with notebook
in hand and lips zipped, carefully listening to your
stakeholder’s needs and frustrations.
Once you’ve absorbed that, reply with questions
geared toward understanding his or her expecta-
tions. Don’t fall back on broad statements such as, “I
understand your concern and we will work to resolve these
technical issues.” Instead, consider asking probing ques-
tions like, “How do these technical issues affect your
upcoming product launch?”
Being inquisitive shows you’re committed to identify-
ing and tackling the root of the issue and not just its symp-
toms. Although a stakeholder may pressure you for an
>>No matter how many status reports
or action plans you submit, sometimes
stakeholders simply need to be heard.
answer, avoid committing to or offering a solution before
understanding all the facts and constraints. Simply agree
to follow up and respond within a defined time period.
3. Identify issues that can be tackled right away.
In some cases, your stakeholders will rattle off 145 issues
they deem “critical” to business continuity—all of which
need to be addressed immediately. In reality, only a select