IT Credibility Challenge #6: Stakeholder Relationships - Page 1

May 27, 2008

Patty Azzarello

You can be doing a fantastic job, but if some of your key stakeholders either don't know about it, or have an incorrect perspective about your work, it can be a huge block to your credibility and your success.


It is the role of any executive to both do their job and build personal credibility and you can’t build and maintain credibility without personal relationships. Relationship building is one of the most important things you can do. It’s not about publicity, it’s about effectiveness. It’s about capturing and maintaining the broad base of support you need to do (and keep) your job.


In earlier articles in this series I discussed that IT is often misunderstood, and that it is important for the CIO to be the one to bridge the "understanding gap” with the business counterparts. But even after the gap is bridged, ongoing, consistent communication and relationship building is critical to maintaining the credibility you have built by aligning your priorities, budget, support processes, and IT plans. Unfortunately, there is no technology solution for building relationships. And doing a complete job of this can be tricky.


Here's the basic approach:


You have a desired outcome of making sure all of your stakeholders are informed and have a positive view of what you are doing and delivering.


You then need a specific action plan to make it happen.


You need to be clear about who your stakeholders and influencers are, and then make sure you are communicating with them on a regular basis, in a way that is consumable for them.


Here’s how to get it done:


Know your audience - You need to have a clear view of who all of your stakeholders are. This is worth some special focus if you have not gone through this exercise. The usual suspects are your boss, the CEO, the CFO, the LOB managers, the Board, your external partners, and employees. It’s different in every environment. Consider yours and make your list.


Consider both your “stakeholders”, the people that depend on you, and “influencers”, the people who don’t have a direct dependency, but can still choose to either support you or make your life miserable by undermining your plans, your budget, or your compensation.



What is the current impression of IT? - First you need to find out what they think. Take the time to have discussions with each stakeholder and understand what their impressions and issues are. This is not about having a strategic business discussion about what IT should be doing, just getting feedback on the current perception of IT.


Here are some questions you can ask:


       What is your impression of IT?

       What do you think is the most important thing that IT delivers today?

       Are there things that you think IT needs to fix?

       What is your experience in getting IT support?

       Do you think we are under-investing or over-investing in IT?


If you are considering sending on online survey instead of having a conversation, I would caution that you are missing the point. This is an opportunity to build a relationship with the people who matter most to your success.


Decide what you want to be known for - This is a great exercise to do with your team. As you review the feedback you got from your stakeholders and influencers, you can then talk about “What do we want to be known for?”


This is important to do for a few reasons:


If you are intentional about what you want to be known for, let’s call it your “team brand”, you can create behaviors and measures to reinforce it consistently. You will be able to assess the gap between where you are now and where you want to go. You can create specific team behaviors and communications that will fill the gap.


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Tags: XML, Microsoft, IT, technology, IT Leadership,

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