Decision Making with Multiple Stakeholders

When you have multiple stakeholders, various projects, and competing deadlines, it can sometimes be difficult to prioritize. It can seem impossible to make a good decision that pleases everyone. The good news is, you don’t have to make everyone happy.Going in too many directions at once makes it difficult to move forward. To straighten it out, ask yourself:

Who do you work for?

I work for my boss.

Most people work for their boss and that simplifies things greatly—you are able to focus on pleasing one person rather than risk dealing with complexity.

I work for the company.

What is good for your boss may not always be in the best interest of your company. Have courage to speak up, but pick your battles carefully and choose wisely when it is worth it.

I work for my project.

When you are working on a high business impact project or if you are a contracted to work on a specific project, your priorities are clear. Say yes to any activity that moves your project forward and say no to activities that get in the way.

I work for the customer.

If you are in a sales or client support position, your priority is likely the customer. To me, the phrase ‘The customer is always right’ means putting the customer above your personal beliefs and your ego. If you truly work for the customer, you should be ready and willing to challenge company policies that aren’t working.

I work for myself.

If you want a good career, acknowledge that no matter who you work for, you also work for yourself. Make time to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health and make it a strategic priority to fit in education, learning, and personal and professional development.

Adjusting your mindset in this way is a quick way to figure out whose interests and desires are deserving of your priority list. Understanding who you need to please in order to do good work can help you make a better decision.

Who do you work for?

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  • Just this past year my collegues and I were in a situation where it was difficult to determine whom our customer was. A long time client of ours invited us to start working with his organizations board of directors. Unfortunately, he was not a director and after several months was upset and felt left out. I took some good solid discussion to get the board and the client back in a good trusting relationship. Now we have two clients each aware of the other but respectful of their space too.

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  • That sounds like a difficult situation — sounds like you dealt with it well in the end! Any lessons learned to pass on to those who may be experiencing this situation currently?