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Seven Good Habits

ADVISORY ARTICLE

Applying Seven Good Habits to develop Strategic Stakeholder Relationships

Eng. Abeer Al Nuaimi

Abu Dhabi, UAE

 



Most project practitioners have come to an understanding that effective management of stakeholder relationships is a key skill that needs to be developed in us. This is very crucial considering that many organizations depend upon their projects to be successful. Project managers know that managing key stakeholders and their influence has a direct impact on project outcomes. Unfortunately many factors make stakeholder relationship management a difficult area for project managers. The project managers need to develop strong leadership skill to manage stakeholders. The power/influence grid is a good start – but it cannot take us far unless we develop some effective habits which are directed at improving our effectiveness in managing stakeholders. It would be difficult to build long term strategic relationships with stakeholders standing on a shaky ground.

Steven R Covey’s book, The 7 habits of Highly Effective people can be used a good framework for project managers to develop a strong foundation towards better stakeholder management which in turn helps in developing better strategic stakeholder relationships. The book relies on proven time tested principles of integrity, honesty, fairness and human dignity which we can apply to be more effective than just be efficient. But we need to clearly understand that “Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds”.

Now let us understand and apply the 7 habits to develop strategic stakeholder relationships.

First Habit: Being Proactive

It is very imperative for the project manager to completely accept responsibility for the project outcomes. Our experiences are function of our decisions, not our conditions. We have the initiative and responsibility to make things happen. In every stakeholder engagement the Project manager has the power to choose his response. Proactive project managers focus their efforts in the circle of influence-they work on things they can do something about. In that way they become more proactive and less reactive over a period of time.

Second Habit: Beginning with the end in mind

The ability to visualize the kind of relationship that we can build with the stakeholders over a period of time is important. Constantly revisiting the image, pictures of where the relationship can lead to is a crucial habit when working with stakeholders. By focusing on the end goal that we perceive to achieve, it helps is doing the things which does not violate the vision we have set. We may have many stakeholders to manage – the question is how effective are we? We cannot be truly effective if we cannot begin with the end in mind.

Third habit: Put first things first

Applying this habit on a consistent basis makes the project manager focus more time and effort on high priority stakeholders- who have high power and high influence in the power/interest grid as explained in PMBOK. This doesn’t mean he should overlook the stakeholders in the other quadrants.

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About the Author


Eng. Abeer Al Nuaimi

United Arab Emirates


 

Abeer Al Nuaimi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. She is a Professional Certified International Consultant in Project Management and International Certified Consultant in Training.   She is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, and holds International Certificates in Leadership Skills and Strategic Planning. A Professional Certified Trainer (PCT), she is also an EFQM Certified Assessor. She lives and works in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and can be contacted at Eng.AAlNuaimi@hotmail.com