Why is it important to choose the right stakeholders to communicate with?

Have you ever worked on a project that you had a well-planned deadline for, however as time went by, you had to push it further and further? Maybe someone wasn’t replying to your emails, maybe you couldn’t get access to the software you needed to complete it, maybe your meetings were pushed to later dates and the whole process slowed down?

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If the answer is yes, you must have felt overwhelmed, maybe a little bit angry, and probably a hell of a lot confused. Why do they don’t want to talk? Why do they don’t reply? Don’t they know it is important? Or is it not their job to provide this information?

You probably tried chasing them, but that only caused more silence… Maybe you got involved someone higher up, and maybe eventually you got the information you were asking for, but it is most likely it was not formatted to be easy to read and now you have a lot of resentment from the said team.

Finally, the project has ended, taking you twice as long as it should. But the new project started and the situation continues again. So you wonder how to avoid it and how to get people to work with you and provide the information you need?

People are not mean

Well, at least most of them. Very often when we’re at work we change our social behaviors. Imagine, if you were at a party, meeting new people. Would you start by asking them for their phone numbers or house addresses as soon as you learn their names? Probably not.

Think about it now in the context of work. The data you are requesting is harder to obtain than someone’s phone number, as they are more likely to have it memorized. If you are asking someone at work to do something for you, they would need to put work that they have prioritized on a side and provide the information for you. Even if this is as quick as finding a file or downloading a set of data from the system, it still means prioritizing your task over the others.

So if your request lands in someone’s email, especially when they are busy and they have no understanding of how does this helps the business, it is very likely your request goes to the back of the queue. Not because they are mean. But because they need to prioritize their work.

People may not have access to the information you require

This is a quite recent experience from my work – I have been requesting a download of data from a specific system, that I do not have the access to. After months of chasing, I have realized that the person I was discussing it with didn’t have access to the system in question.

They used to, but not anymore.

Things in the companies change, sometimes very fast. So staying updated with other people’s responsibilities can help to understand how can they help you – or when they cannot and you need to find another solution.

Think about something that you are chasing right now – is the person who is not replying really the right person to ask for this information? Maybe even if they have access, they are not highly skilled in it? Maybe there is someone else you could ask? Have a think and chat to them about it. There might be something preventing them from helping you.

People may not have the power to decide on what you are asking them

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You have probably noticed that, especially in large corporations, every decision made, needs to be approved by a collective of people on different levels and often from various departments.

If you have asked someone to provide an approval or make a decision on a certain topic, they might need time, not only to seek the approvals from other people who need to be involved, but they may need to delay it further to actually realize who is responsible to be making this decision.

This is especially important if you are trying to bring in something new to the company. If the company doesn’t have a specific pattern of steps for this particular type of project, leaving finding out the responsible people to someone you *think* is or should be responsible for what you are trying to achieve might actually delay the whole process further.

So why is it important to choose the right stakeholders to communicate with?

Having the right people identified from the start, and updating the list regularly can help you with:

Time management and preventing delays

If you have identified the right people from the start, this will help you manage your project timeline way better. If you are approaching the right person from the start, the delays are easier to avoid.

The right communications go to the right people

Communicating is a huge part of what we do, yet often this gets diluted. Do you receive these mass-corporate emails? How many of them have you read before you realised that most of the information is not interesting or not relevant to you?

You might miss out on sending the communication to the wrong person, who will not only disregard the message, but they probably will not think about forwarding it to the right person. So make sure you get it right from the beginning.

Easier to move tasks and decisions forward

If you identify the decision-makers and people who have the information you required from the beginning, it will not only be quicker for you to move the project forward but also easier.

Identifying the stakeholders and getting to know them before the project starts, will help you understand them and their capabilities within the company. I can bet, that you might also discover that a manager who potentially had a low impact on your project, might direct you towards the right people and introduce you if you put the time in to get to know them.

Helps with understanding the challenges they may have

Your project is going to affect your stakeholders – that’s why they are your stakeholders (if you need more clarification, check out this article) – and if you understand their goals and challenges, your project will be more successful from the start.

Making sure that you speak to the right people, helps you identify the right challenges and exhaust the list of obstacles you or they may encounter.

To sum up – Why is it important to choose the right stakeholders to communicate with?

Choosing the right people to communicate with will help you:

  • preventing delays
  • better time management
  • communicating with people in charge
  • requesting information from the right people
  • understanding better the challenges

at the end resulting in delivering a successful project on time.

Let me know below, if you have found this article useful.

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