Monday, July 20, 2015

The Personalities of Project Stakeholder Interactions

Project managers often must interact with many different stakeholders on a project.  Not only do the stakeholders have different interests and objectives with respect to the project, they often have very different interaction personalities.  When developing a stakeholder communication plan, a project manager should take these interaction personalities into consideration.  Depending upon the personality type, the method of communication, timing of communication, and the emphasis in the communication should be different.

Let me be clear about one thing, always communicate truth.  With all personalities you must provide a true picture of what is happening on the project and the type of interactions or decisions you need from the stakeholder.  However, in some cases the emphasis will be the facts, in some cases the emphasis will be the team members involved and some cases the emphasis will be the impact and next steps.  Let’s look at the five stakeholder interaction personalities.

This individual is focused on action.  They want to know what has happened, what is happening, and what you will do next.  When reporting on project status they want to hear about problems immediately and what you are doing about them.  To them a project communication failure has occurred if they find out about a problem on your project before you tell them.  If there is a major problem on a project, contact them immediately.  You don’t need all the facts or all the answers, but you need to let them know you are aware of the problem and doing something about it.  They will want to be involved in problem solving.  As a fire-fighter, they want to “smell the smoke.”  

This individual is focused on the people on the project team and those assigned to project problems.  They don’t want to know all the details about the problem; they want to know who is working it.  They put a high value on relationship and trust with individuals throughout the organization.  To them a communication failure is when an unknown person (or worse yet someone they don’t trust) is responsible for communicating with them about the project or problem.  You need to build a relationship with this person so that they will trust you.  When working on a project problem, start the communication with a list of who is working on the problem.  They will help you get the right people if you need them.

Data Demon
This individual is focused on facts.  They want facts about the project. They want facts about project problems.  They expect detailed plans, status reports, and analysis.  They would rather that you wait until you have the facts to talk with them than to have you interact quickly with vague or incomplete facts.  To them a communication failure is a project status or conclusion that is not supported by data.  When communicating with these individuals about project status, always have a detailed plan, status, and analysis.  If there is a problem, let them know that a variance has occurred and that you will provide the data about the issue as soon as you are able to collect it and analyse it.  They are not as interested in what you are doing as they are in what you know.

Process Policeman
This individual is focused on processes.  They have faith that if the process is followed, good results will happen and that the biggest business problem is undisciplined people doing unfocused work.  They want to know what process is being followed and on which step the project or project team is working.  When it comes to project status, they want to know that you are following the approved methodology and they expect the project report to be following the approved template.  They consider unapproved deviations from the process to be a major project failure.  If a problem arises on the project, they expect you to follow the problem resolution process.  When meeting with them, ensure that you let them know the process you are using and progress through that process.  If there is no process explain how you will develop one and then follow that.

Brick Wall
This person is not focused on your project, despite your efforts to get their attention.  They don’t come to meetings or conference calls.  They don’t respond to emails and status reports. Communicating with them is like communicating with a brick wall.  You and your project are either an irritant or irrelevant as far as they are concerned.  The key to working with these people will follow one of two paths.  One path is to structure your project so that you minimize the amount of interaction required with these stakeholders.  The second path is to identify something that they are very concerned about and that your project could impact.  Then lead every project communication with a reference to that item. 

Recognizing the interaction personality of your stakeholders and responding accordingly may take a little more effort, but will improve the communication and interaction with stakeholders.  When in the middle of a project issue, this can minimize miscommunication and help to quickly align support for resolution. 


  1. Tag: PM202A56. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

    1. Plan your day using time management techniques

    As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

    If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

    Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

    2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

    While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

    Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

    Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

    3. Regularly communicate with your team

    Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

    For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

    4. Anticipate project setbacks

    Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

    Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

    Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

    Related post: 92 free project management templates

    5. Stay focused on the details

    A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

    Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

    And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs

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