Energizing and Engaging Stakeholders

by MaryGrace Allenchey, PMP

describe the imageIn our current economic climate, organizations expect optimal results from the assets invested in their strategic project and program initiatives. These initiatives must meet or exceed planned budget and schedule expectations, as well as produce high quality products and provide superior service.

To ensure optimum performance, stakeholders must be fully and competently engaged throughout the lifecycle of the project or program.  Project Managers must energize all stakeholders… including clients, end-users, functional-managers, senior management, contractors, consultants, vendors, as well as the implementation team members … to optimally perform each of their required functions and continuously contribute to project and program success.

Many believe that motivational techniques are dependent upon the type of project team and may argue:

  • “IT-Project teams require continuous exposure to state-of-the-art technology to sustain their motivation”,
  • “Engineering Teams require access to detailed and unambiguous specifications to sustain their performance”,
  • “Sales Teams require continuous information about the revenue impact to maintain their interest”,
  • And the list goes on…

I do not disagree that motivating techniques responding to these drivers may actually motivate a team… but I submit they motivate only in the short-run!

Psychologists agree that humans are energized and gratified when they provide beneficial services, and recognize that their services are critical to the overall well being of a person or organization. This feeling of self-worth promotes and sustains optimum performance. Clinical studies have even attested to improved health in persons engaged in helping or providing worthwhile services to others.

Projects and programs are the vehicle to provide beneficial products and services to enterprises and individuals, and project stakeholders are the critical component. Our motivational techniques must capitalize on this paradigm and address the following two important areas to optimize and sustain high performance throughout the lifecycle of the project or program:

  • Benefits of the project or program deliverables
  • Worth of every stakeholder, your team members.

To promote the benefit of the project or program deliverables, emphasize the good that results from successfully completing the project or program, and delivering quality products that meet or exceed stakeholder functional specifications and performance expectations. Promote the project or program from a broad enterprise or global perspective versus a narrow, department or local perspective.

I was consulting with a hospital IT-group who promoted a new information management project as the “XYZ-System Implementation” and presented all of the technical features of the XYZ-System. The project implementation team was frustrated and demoralized by the lack of recognition and cooperation the project received from other hospital groups, who tagged the effort as another burdensome IT-initiative that would probably increase their workload.

After recommending that the project be promoted for what benefits it truly provided…”patient information management”, and presenting the improvements and enhancement to the specific work-processes of the various and unique departments, the IT-project team started to experience unprecedented cooperation from all hospital groups, who were now anxious to successfully implement the system in their departments.  The project implementation team was energized by the realization that they were not just implementing the XYZ-System, but providing a critical, beneficial product to the enterprise, departments, physicians, technicians and nurses.  Stakeholder performance mirrored their enthusiasm to successfully complete the project and provide improved “Patient Information Management” throughout the hospital.

The second element for optimizing performance is to ensure that every individual on the team knows the worth of every other individual on the team.

We are all familiar with the anecdote that every link on a chain is critical and the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  When all stakeholders know and appreciate the contributions or specific and unique deliverables of every other stakeholder or individual on the team, conflicts over roles and responsibilities disappear. More importantly, team collaboration, communication and cooperation significantly increase to be sure everyone successfully produces their deliverables to achieve the coveted win/win and optimize the strength of the chain.

Experienced Project Manager Professionals are already equipped with the tools and techniques to effectively promote and apply these motivators…when we use and apply our PM-tools creatively.

  • Present the deliverables of your project or program in a one-page picture, to clearly depict and promote the overall benefits of the products and services to be provided, as well as to identify the organizational or individual beneficiaries of the project.

This picture is actually the deliverables-based, high-level Work Breakdown Structure… the WBS-Hierarchy for the project, enhanced to include the Organizational Breakdown Structure…the OBS of stakeholders as well.

  • The detailed WBS of deliverables, tasks, dependencies and resources is also an effective tool for clearly presenting the worth of every stakeholder or team member and their critical link in the project success-chain.

Present and discuss your WBS with all project or program stakeholders to acknowledge and recognize the overall work-effort and the professional expertise required of every role.

Proactively and continuously using best practices project management tools and techniques to promote and apply these motivating motivators: the benefits and beneficiaries of the deliverables, and the worth of every stakeholder, your team members, energizes and engages stakeholders; as well as ensures and optimizes overall project and program communication, collaboration, cooperation, consensus, commitment and celebration, the PM Vitamin C6 that sustains optimum performance throughout the lifecycle of the project or program.

If you found these tips from MaryGrace Allenchey, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.


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