A low-interest, high-impact stakeholder can be one of the biggest barriers to successful completion of a project. There are often reasons that this person is a threat: they have a vested interest in a competing, high-profile project, they have personal issues with someone on the team, or your project slightly touches on their little fiefdom. There are a few ways to deal with these kinds of people. Keep these strategies in your back pocket for when you really need this grumpy coworker to join your team.
1. Engage the stakeholder project early on in the project. These kind of people creep up quickly. Either you were aware of them as the project began to pick up or they slammed into the project as a road block. Often, they hold the keys to making innovative ideas possible. You either need to turn them into high-interest, high-impact stakeholders or low-interest, low-impact ones. This means, get them engaged and give them a role or turn your project in the direction away from their sphere of control. Get them on board during a planning meeting. Let them discuss the issues that they see. Give them ample floor time and make them feel included. Stroke their ego to get things moving forward.
2. Ask them for their advice. Some people like to show that they are knowledgeable. Letting the grumpy stakeholder feel like the expert can help to get them engaged and discussing their view point. If they feel like they have a say or some control in the project, they may be less resistant to future change.
3. Find their motivation. Find out what this lady enjoys about work and what he doesn’t like. Does she get off on a well-planned project? Is she constantly flooded with requests from other projects and doesn’t want to babysit another group of people? Put yourself in her shoes and play a little tit-for-tat. Exploit her interests in your favor. This sounds manipulative, but that’s how office politics work. Offer what she needs and she might be willing to let your requests make it to the top of his list.
4. Crack that egg by asking him out to lunch. Develop some personal rapport with this person and when project time rolls around, he’ll be much more approachable as you rest on your friendly laurels. You can catch more bees with honey.
5. Outnumber them. If the grumpy lady simply won’t join your team, band your allies together to override the negativity. An excellent method to do this is to prepare all the members of your coalition of the willing with information about your project. Load them up with all the ammunition that they need to go to bat for you. When it’s time for a decision-making meeting that involves the grumpy stakeholder, everyone else will know that the best decision is to press forward with the project and the grump will be out-voted.