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Wanted: Internal Stakeholder Management Mentor

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Hi all,

 

As the topic of the thread suggests, I'm looking for some help with regards to working with stakeholders inside of the business that I currently work at.

 

Backstory:

I'm hired as an MI Analyst (the only person within the data team) within a financial services company, however that's just my job title. What we're actually aiming for with my role is data science/ creating IP from data. Internally that isn't very well understood (I've worked here going on 2 years) and stake holders are more concerned that I've not given them any reporting etc.

 

So I'm looking to manage that scenario, the CIO is the one who set out the strategy to adhere to, so I can't change the strategy, but it would be nice to get the wider business bought into the situation and helping to guide projects etc in the right direction.

 

Secondly:

I'm a very passionate person, (I mean that in all the negative and positive ways of the word) so when things are good they're amazing, and when things are bad they're awful. That paired with a low level of confidence ends up with me sounding aggressive rather than assertive (This is me guessing what my perception of me is based on tid bits of feedback over the years).

 

So I'm looking to change my behaviour and conduct around the office to maintain the positives of my passionate nature and develop my negatives to be more constructive.

 

Tall order I know but I thought I'd ask the questions:)

 

Sorry for all the waffle!

 

Cheers

 

Alex

Edited by atowns

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Hi all,

 

As the topic of the thread suggests, I'm looking for some help with regards to working with stakeholders inside of the business that I currently work at.

 

Backstory:

I'm hired as an MI Analyst (the only person within the data team) within a financial services company, however that's just my job title. What we're actually aiming for with my role is data science/ creating IP from data. Internally that isn't very well understood (I've worked here going on 2 years) and stake holders are more concerned that I've not given them any reporting etc.

 

So I'm looking to manage that scenario, the CIO is the one who set out the strategy to adhere to, so I can't change the strategy, but it would be nice to get the wider business bought into the situation and helping to guide projects etc in the right direction.

 

Secondly:

I'm a very passionate person, (I mean that in all the negative and positive ways of the word) so when things are good they're amazing, and when things are bad they're awful. That paired with a low level of confidence ends up with me sounding aggressive rather than assertive (This is me guessing what my perception of me is based on tid bits of feedback over the years).

 

So I'm looking to change my behaviour and conduct around the office to maintain the positives of my passionate nature and develop my negatives to be more constructive.

 

Tall order I know but I thought I'd ask the questions:)

 

Sorry for all the waffle!

 

Cheers

 

Alex

 

Alex

 

Are there people in your company who offer to be mentors? Maybe ask your manager if this is available.

 

One tool I think would help would be 360 degree feedback on your performance and behaviour - asking questions such as "what do I well?", what should I do less of? what should I stop doing? etc.. Get this from peers, your team, managers etc..

 

Given your role is about generating IP then be careful about what you talk about outside of the company. There maybe confidentiality clauses.

 

If your company are willing to fund external coaches/mentors then there are companies (such as NewHabits in Nether Edge) which can help.

 

Best Wishes

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Thanks for your response Jon, I've asked my manager and he can't think of anyone suitable, he also had concerns over confidentiality.

 

I'll have a look at doing a 360 degree feedback exercise and see what comes back.

 

Thanks for the referral to NewHabits, I'll have a chat to my manager about them and see if that would be an option.

 

Thanks again for your response,

 

Alex

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It sounds to me that there’s a mismatch between your colleagues’ expectations of your role and your actual role. I would recommend getting a vision for what you believe your role to be communicated to the stakeholders you’re concerned about. There’s many ways of doing this - blogs, email updates, reports, over coffee - and done well it should also provide you with feedback on their expectations. If you’re likely to have an extended period with few tangible deliverables then make sure this is clear upfront.

 

Without knowing exactly what you’re creating it’s difficult to give firm advice. However, if you’re in a position where you can manage your project plan and deliverables try categorising the deliverables as functional or non-functional, or beneficial to the stakeholders today or a building block for the future. With this view you can then ensure you’re alternating in what you delive to ensure they keep receiving tangible and useful increments from your work, without long delays in between (I work in security, and interspace security enhancements with enhancements which improve the user experience to achieve this).

 

External mentors are great and will have pro forma non disclosure agreements. As Jon suggested, 360 degree feedback is great. The people providing development points are usually those best placed to advise on how to address it too, so don’t be afraid to use it as the start of a conversation with them.

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Hi Alex,

 

Ok, so you have two problems: internal stakeholders not understanding your specific role and your behaviours. I had some problems with my behaviours in the office, but reflecting on these and the feedback I received helped me figured out that it which stressful situations brought out the wrong behaviours. For me, it was a sense of being trapped; there being no way to deal meet everyone's needs. Once I realised this, and was also told by more senior colleagues that it was okay to ask for more time to figure out what to do, I was able to stop reacting in negative ways.

 

The communication of your role is something that you can only partially address. Ideally, your manager and the CIO would be helping you with this. I would suggest you ask for their help to maintain a constant flow of communications to your stakeholders. Suggest that every month you write a blog (and a short email to publicise it). Get your manager and CIO's commitment to write something for the blog every three months so that the stakeholders can see that both your manager and the CIO value your role. (if you get your manager to write an entry for February, ask the CIO to write one for March, you can do a longer one for April to fill in the gap.)

 

You will need to keep the blog posts short and to the point, so that the stakeholders can read them without it taking too much of their time. (Expect to get their focus for 2 minutes a month). Ideally, you want three sentences of headlines that those who are short of time/less interested, and a short paragraph with more detail on each of the headline. If it takes you more than an hour to write each blog post, you are overthinking it.

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Hi Alex,

 

Are you still looking for a mentor. I work in data scienece and wiild be happy to help

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I know nothing about "data science" as you refer to it. I do know quite a bit about organisational management and behaviour though. I've previously held some senior positions in large corporate organisations - and I've started out on the shop floor as it were. So I understand quite a lot about people management, processes, HR functions, team building, change management, that sort of thing. My experience is with large corporate organisations, FTSE Top 100 type companies.

 

Someone has suggested 360 feedback. I think that's very valuable, however, people have to be trained to give the feedback and people have to be trained to receive it. It doesn't sound to me like this is ingrained in the culture of your organisation - and that may present some difficulties. I'm not discouraging you from trying it, but it would be so much better if this was actually part of the fabric of your organisation and everyone understood what it is for and how to use it.

 

I've seen it used so badly, even in very large multi-national companies, and it can be destructive. Some examples...

 

"please provide feedback on John, in confidence. Send the feedback to me" - John's Boss.

 

"please provide me with any positive feedback that you have about me" - Helen

 

In the first example, the feedback is being requested not by the person themselves, but by their boss. This is never going to produce honest helpful feedback. People will be guarded about what they say, knowing that it is going to be used by John's boss in some way. Others might take the opportunity, seeing as it's marked "confidential", to really put the boot in for John.

 

In the second example, (and this I've seen very commonly), the person is asking for feedback themselves (good!) but she only wants "positive" feedback!:suspect: So, "send me some complements" then? This is not going to be of any great value to her, or others.

 

Anyhow, that's just a little aside, but if you are going to ask for feedback on yourself, I'd do the following...

 

Think about the key things you do in your job. Let me make up an example. Let's say that you are responsible for producing high quality, informative business reports, on time, each month.

 

You set that as a statement and then ask people to give a response, like this...

 

 

"John produces high quality business reports, that are informative and help me with my job, on a regular basis, each month".

 

Please tick which of the following most apply to this statement.

 

Always

Often

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

 

But then you get the person to put a little comment alongside their choice of response. e.g.

 

"Sometimes" - "John doesn't always gets the report to me on time - and sometimes it's missing some information"

 

So, that's how it can work. But here's the key thing...

 

Now you need to meet that person FACE TO FACE and discuss that response with them. Ask them to give you specific examples of what you did, how that made them feel, and why they have responded in the way they have.

 

This is often the part that's missing.

 

I've had many folks write to me and ask me to provide written feedback on them. I used to do it willingly at first, but then I actually stopped doing it, because they didn't follow up with me and discuss it. There's no point asking for feedback if you are only looking for positive feedback, or, if you're not going to sit down face to face and discuss it with the person who provided it. And it must ALWAYS be requested by you, to you. Not by your boss, to your boss.

 

Just getting back to your OP now and it sounds to me like your CIO, the guy who sets the strategy, hasn't got everyone bought into that in the first place. You sound a bit detached from the strategy and frustrated that others aren't buying into it? He should probably be seeing his own role in this because your job is so much harder if you are trying to get folks to buy into his strategy.

 

As to your "passionate" nature. Well, passion is a good thing - but it's how you express it that's important. In my experience some people think it's good to be over-exuberant and passionate at work. I've seen senior managers getting up on stage and ranting and raving like Adolf Hitler and think that it makes them look like a good leader, because of all the "passion". It doesn't actually - it makes them look like fools. And it's not appropriate.

 

But neither is being submissive and depressive in your communications. It sounds to me like you are deeply frustrated and you aren't very well supported by your organisation. In this situation, I think your first priority is to focus on those things that you can have control over, but to also understand the context in which you are operating. This is very important. One of the things that marks out successful people in companies is their ability to influence others and get things done.

 

I think it's brave of you to come on here and talk openly about it. I think you do need a mentor, by that, I don't mean there's anything wrong with you at all, but you're obviously open to benefit from a mentor. I just wonder how open your organisation is because it sounds pretty amateurish to me and I think that's part of the problem.

Edited by DerbyTup

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Hi Alex

 

There have been some great ideas in reply to your post and you may have adopted some already. 

 

For a living I work as a Project Manager, implementing software and training customers face-to-face and online. A key part of my role is understanding how people learn and adapting my approach when working with said people. 

 

I also run a Consultancy business working with people like yourself who feel they have certain weaknesses in the workplace and wish to better their behaviours. 

 

I would love to have an informal chat with you to start off, with the view of working with you in the future. 

 

PM me please if you wish. 

Thanks. 

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