Securing Stakeholder Support with Transparent Communications

Don’t work in secret. Don’t hide or avoid tough conversations and make sure you get out in front of anything you could potentially see creating an obstacle for your team. Your primary responsibility will be to keep the path clear for those who are doing the heavy lifting and one tactic you can use is full transparency. Keeping communication lines open for everyone will help prevent the escalations and build a stronger stakeholder support team.

Lyndon B. Johnson once quoted about J. Edgar Hoover “ It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

Keeping your stakeholders close, well informed and engaged early an often will keep them from pissing inside your tent. There are a few tactics you can take to ensure this process is successful.

  • Create a steering committee that helps prioritize all requests and direction of the overall collaboration
  • Setup regular meeting cadences for updates to keep everyone aware of progress and ensure they have a platform for requests and feedback.
  • Keep entire project status, meeting notes, team members published publically so all can see. This will help you direct questions and allow individual to view for themselves.

Conflict Prevention via Transparent Communication

Opinions are like belly buttons, “Everyone Has One”. Word will get out about that you have executive sponsorship, funding and or a plan that may change how others will work and believe me there will be no shortages of opinions. You will find that many of the stakeholders, you need to work with will want to ensure their pet projects and or features get escalated to the top of your backlog list and will be one of many obstacles your team will face. There is a delicate balance on how to handle to help manage these obstacles but don’t get frustrated if one of the stakeholders escalates to their executives. You can’t stop that and actually, it makes that person look unprofessional that they aren’t able to work with you and in all reality the executives don’t want to hear it. The executive team will have an expectation of you that you are engaging that person and will resolve without their involvement. As a team leader they expect that you will come to the table with solutions and updates not conflicts and issues. Learn this fast otherwise you could see yourself replaced if things can’t be resolved. So, you know there will be opinions and escalations that will happen so how can you address it. Lesson number one, Transparent Communications!

How to Build a Collaboration Marketing Team

As you went through the process of building out your strategic marketing plan you probably encountered many who were interested and some who weren’t in discussions you had. There will be no shortage of those who want to be involved and allowing everyone on the team will just create obstacles down the road, so select your leadership carefully that will help keep those engaged, informed and managed as needed. Ask yourself; do you have the leadership you need? Someone that can work across multiple departments, be diplomatic in resolving conflict and be able to keep everyone motivated to deliver. Some of the best teams I have led have included someone from IT that can help communicate to the developers the business need; a business leader that manages the customer expectations and a stakeholder/communication manager that can help provide updates on status to the stakeholders and feed in any new requirements requests. Then having a good project manager that will hold people accountable for deliverables as well as pull meetings together to keep the teams informed and working together. This is a good start to building the foundation of your team.

Next post I’ll discuss managing those who aren’t on the team but believe you should be taking direction from them with transparent communication.

How to Build an Engagement Marketing Strategy Plan

Let’s start with outlining the strategic plan and building the team. It should be based around your objectives you have already identified and will help support the story you have been sharing. First identify some low hanging fruit that you believe you can deliver pretty quickly to show progress is being made. You will also need to create a gap analysis to determine where you have needs. Don’t be scared of the term “Gap Analysis”, no one is looking for a twenty page document just a high level outline of items that will be fundamental to building the foundation of the platform, team or improvements on customer experience.

 

Engaging your team and your peers for ideas on need and direction will accomplish a few things. First, it establishes a sense of trust with them that you value their opinion and they will appreciate the fact that they are engaged and you have asked them for ideas. Many of these ideas will likely surround your objectives you have identified and you can work to prioritize. Creating a backlog list (Excel spreadsheet) is a good way to do this with columns identifying details of each item.

 

  • Urgency of need or critical dependency
  • Level of difficulty (easy, hard, medium
  • Resources required (funding, IT, Vendor)

Then sort through the list, in this order, identifying a hand full of items that are critical, can be delivered in a reasonable time frame and currently have the resources to deliver. Keeping a good mix of easy and hard will allow you to deliver n bi-weekly sprint releases while still moving toward the larger end objective. I have ended up with lists of upwards of 300 items, which can look daunting but will help you manage incremental releases and be a strong foundation for building your plan. This will also help keep communications transparent when stakeholders ask the status of particular features and when they may be expected.

Screw it, Let’s Do it!

Congratulations, you secured your executive support, but now what? It’s time to get started and the only drawback about securing executive support is now you have to deliver. So here are a few things that Executive support provides but the rest will be up to you and the next steps you take to build our your team. Executive support will provide funding, resources and cover for obstacles you may run into but they won’t blindly offer up these things without a solid plan, leadership and vision.

This can be as easy as just asking your team and peers. “What needs to be done first?” In many cases I have found that platforms are badly neglected due to funding cuts and or lack of a plan. So, the first thing you can do to build your foundation to modernize your customer engagement platform. And no I am not talking about Facebook or Twitter as your platform for customer engagement. You need to have a forum where customers can connect directly with the engineers that are either building or supporting the product. These are highly technical individuals that you will need to recruit to help support program efforts moving forward and something I will discuss later on how to build stakeholder support and a strategy to get started.