Managing Stakeholders has become a major challenge in a ‘Remote Working Environment’ (working from home). It increases the complexity factor to a project, it removes the physical interactions and the ability to manage emotions and behavioral aspects.
By Emile Fakhoury
Adding to this challenge, if you have kids at home, home schooling will add more load to the parent to manage already a challenging Remote Working Environment. I realized that while being under curfew and in lockdown mode. We tend to be more tensed and sometimes reactive, while at the same time it becomes an important aspect to manage our emotions and relation with various stakeholders.
However, we need to keep looking positively as for every challenge, an opportunity arises to adapt and relearn organizational and communication techniques. In a previous blog I have presented the project successes criteria as being interlinked to the project implementation, financial and suitability benefits.
Focusing on the project successes criteria and putting into perspective will definitely help to navigate disruptions and uncertainties for managing stakeholders. These criteria once embedded into the project manager behavioral patterns will lead to better managing project stakeholders in remote working environment.
I practiced several steps in my projects during the COVID-19 period and also am looking beyond this phase to extend these habits as it’s becoming the success pattern in the industry.
• First and most importantly, working on the communication tool is key to succeed.
I have discussed communication being key for every project manager success in my blog how to be become the best project manager. I work always in my projects to establish and modularize the discussions with stakeholders. Increasing the frequency of video/call conferences to twice per week or daily as needed after agreeing to a regular rhythm with your stakeholder is essential to control the projects progress and manage your stakeholders.
• Languages and cultural barriers will become more visible and appear heavy on every communication email you will receive/sent. Again increase frequency of discussion and incorporate visualization into your project such presenting the project in 3D model, the schedule/progress on a slide, provide more photos/videos for material inspection and project milestones. Leveraging visual images will help break the language barriers and connect all stakeholders to the project objectives smoothly. This will support global cooperation on the project as you continue using communication tools more frequently in this Remote Working Environment.
• Other techniques I used is to create a dialogue map of the conversation by establishing the sequence for discussions to tackle all the meeting agenda items and using threaded discussions tools to gather answers and deliverable. Appreciate everyone time zone and location, be mindful always of cultural barriers and always remember to provide opportunity for each stakeholder to participate and get involved on the each video/call conferences.
Establishing good communication flow and practicing these techniques means navigating your stakeholder towards the project objectives and managing risks efficiently.
More and more interactions are needed and maximizing use of communication tools and using diverse locations on each of your video/call conferences will give you sufficient time to manage emotions. Including your own emotions during your discussions which comes to the benefit of the project teams you manage and benefits the project objectives.
Emile Fakhoury is a Project Manager Professional working in oil and gas and power generation industries.