Member Story: Working effectively with stakeholders on complex projects

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Adam is a Business Operations & Strategy Associate.

What motivated you to focus on Strategic Management?

At the end of one of my projects, I had a feedback session that was particularly challenging. The VP had felt that I hadn't given my best effort, while I'd felt that there had been a lack of clarity on what we were delivering. During that session, we unearthed a multitude of clashing assumptions that neither of us had voiced.

What steps did you take to improve?

I explored the feedback with my coach, trying to separate my emotions, and objectively assess each piece. I had to fight my reaction to make excuses that the VP, as a leader, should've done X or Y differently.

Eventually, I was able to express what I could do that was within my control and how to do it within the context of our company culture. In my case, it starts with taking extreme ownership and biasing to action. It’s my responsibility to make sure I have clarity, alignment, and the support/resources I need to do my best work.

What was the outcome of your work?

I'm able to catch anything that needs addressing as early as possible, and be able to manage up in every project thanks to self-awareness, and the practices I put into place afterwards.

Any tips for others working on a similar topic?

  1. Set expectations upfront, and reset expectations whenever your workload changes in unpredictable ways.
  2. Take the time upfront to learn how each leader likes to give and receive feedback.
  3. Call out any and every meaningful assumption you make.