Effective Stakeholder Management

At any given instance in your work or delivery, various stakeholders are associated with it whereby each one is inclined towards a single mission or a goal.

In the context of product management, the role of Product manager (PM) is pivotal in enabling stakeholder management and cohesive engagement. The one task where a Product Manager has to successfully demonstrate daily is the effective communication techniques.

Let’s assume for an instance, the Product Manager is working with the following teams for a mobile product to be launched in the next 6 months.

  1. UX
  2. UI
  3. Engineering
  4. Marketing
  5. Clients or End Users
  6. Senior Stakeholders (HiPPO)

After thoroughly articulating the product backlogs and setting a clear vision, the role of Product Manager in effectively managing the stakeholders starts.

To decide on where to begin for each day, the prioritized task helps the PM to navigate towards its particular group of stakeholders.

Scenario 1: Prototyping

In order to nudge the ball and make it roll, the PM plans it’s initial action to talk to UX/UI team or the lead verify the following pointers

  1. Vision Clarity
  2. Any roadblock or impediments
  3. Discuss future state of the prototype and demo.

Daily Scrum enables the development team to prioritize sprint backlogs and plan of action.
P.S. The PM must be less involved with use cases and more with strategy and planning.

Scenario 2: Engineering

At any hour of the day, a quick informal discussion with the engineering team proves no harm. This allows to build trust between the PM and development team and promotes mutual respect. In this case, the PM avoids being commanding and instead acts as an effective listener.
During daily scrum, the PM is primarily an observer but can influence decisions through its inputs keeping vision in mind.

Scenario 3: Marketing

The PM is a seller when it comes to interacting with the marketing team. Every feature inside-out is thoroughly explained by the PM in order for the marketing team to make effective decisions for product launch.

Following pointers are discussed by PM in planning a go-to market strategy

  1. User groups
  2. Content and Lead generation
  3. Adjustments and Iterations.
  4. User Retention

Scenario 4: Clients or End Users

Being empathetic rules when it comes to customer interactions. Customers retain the highest value of importance when it comes to product planning and iterations. The strategy of Product delivery sets a clear and transparent view for customers. Following traits help as a PM to effectively manage customers

  1. Empathy
  2. Effective Listener
  3. Prioritize and tradeoff
  4. Understanding pulse (culture, language, personal traits)

Scenario 5: Senior Stakeholder (HiPPO)

Even though a PM leads through influence and has prioritized their strategy, a single or a group of senior stakeholders can influence a PM’s strategy. After all, it is the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO). In order for the PM to stand its ground, it is very important to understand the nature of stakeholders. This can be achieved by a simple matrix of Power vs Interest.

Stakeholder engagement matrix

Steps to manage your stakeholders effectively.

  1. Create a matrix and identify the stakeholders
  2. Be data ready in order to convince stakeholders about your decision.
  3. Communicate the progress.

In all the scenarios mentioned above, 1 thing that stands common is effective communication with cross-functional teams.

Start talking as if you are reading bullet points. You may come at as mechanical but for a listener you will be perceived as a structured thinker and effective communicator.