I work with a lot of people who struggle with stakeholder management. They spend a lot of energy beating their head against a brick wall trying to get their boss/budget holder/leader to think differently. As almost all of my clients are digital, agile, user-centred people, they have the key to unlock this particular problem firmly in their pockets but they seem to have forgotten that it’s there. It’s going to be even more important now that we are all working remotely as its harder to build relationships at a distance.
When it comes to product management, people are very accustomed to exploring users’ needs, interviewing and observing users and collating insights so that they and the team can easily step into the user's shoes at will. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a product in development that does not test with users incredibly frequently, to make sure all new features are useful and usable.
My suggestion to you is to take this same user-centred approach to stakeholder management. You need to treat them like you would any other user of the system you are working on and observe your boss/budget holder/leader until you know exactly what makes them tick. You might even want to make a persona for them, just as you would any other user! Making life easier for them must be a priority for you!
Your research needs to uncover:
Once you understand your boss/budget holder/leader, take a look at the subject you are championing or campaigning for and see it through their eyes. From that perspective, consider how important is going to be to them. If you were your boss/budget holder/leader, would you still be pushing for the same things as you do now?
I’d love to hear thoughts on this, especially from people who have tried it!
Otherwise, what's your secret to handling tricky stakeholders?
25 years experience in helping teams build user centred products and services, now helping digital colleagues learn how to bounce back better than before from the challenges life throws at us from time-to-time.