Managing Difficult Stakeholders in Project Management

Adriana Girdler

Common stakeholder challenges and how to resolve them If you’ve ever had a project with NO challenges or difficult stakeholders, you must be living in …

Common stakeholder challenges and how to resolve them

If you’ve ever had a project with NO challenges or difficult stakeholders, you must be living in a dream! It is all too common to face challenges with stakeholders on any project.

If you are currently frustrated by challenges you’re facing with your stakeholders, or if you want to be prepared for the challenges you might face in the future, you need to know simple ways to manage difficult stakeholders so that your project and business objectives are met.

1. Do the 5 Whys

When you’re dealing with difficult stakeholders, you need to identify exactly what is causing the challenges that you’re facing.

Is it miscommunication? Misunderstanding? Do they have a hidden agenda?

One technique you can use to identify the cause of the challenges is to sit down with that stakeholder and have a one-on-one.

If you find they are still not opening up to you, then use the technique “the 5 whys”. This is where you ask them, something like: “I can see that you don’t agree with what is going on here. Can I ask why?”

When they answer your question, continue diving deeper and keep asking them “why is that?”

The whole purpose of this is that the more “whys” you ask, the more information they are going to give you. By the end of your conversation, you should have a pretty good understanding of where the challenges are stemming from.

2. Find common ground

Not all challenging stakeholders are going to be argumentative or emotional.

Some of them are very logical and straight-forward; they just don’t agree with what you’re doing, plain and simple.

This can be one of the most frustrating challenges to face because it’s not about taking out the emotional charge. It’s about figuring out how to get them on board with the direction you’re going in the project.

This is where it becomes critical to find common ground. Your project charter should have laid out the scope of the project, and that’s the information you can point to.

Have a one-on-one with this sponsor, go back to the charter and discuss the scope of the project that was agreed upon at the beginning so that you can find out what needs to be done for them to get on board with achieving that deliverable. This conversation will open the door for common ground to be found and an agreement to be reached.

More tips for handling challenging stakeholders

There are so many other challenges that can come up when it comes to handling stakeholders. I want to equip you with a good starting point for handling a variety of challenges, so I made a YouTube video on this very topic.

Click here to watch that video and we’ll get you up to speed.

If you want to ensure you not only eliminate those stakeholder challenges but also have a super successful project, make sure you check out my SLAY Project Management course where I give you all the templates, tips, and techniques to implement to make every project successful.

Adriana Girdler, PMP | Creator of Slay Project Management

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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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