Another Key Project Management Skill: Teaching your Stakeholders

It’s time to add one more item to your list of key project management skills: teaching your stakeholders.

Teaching is an integral part of communicating with your project stakeholders. You may find yourself operating in a teaching mode as you communicate project issues, change request status and requirements to your stakeholders, making sure that these things are both understood and agreed upon. Many times, you may find yourself facilitating the learning experiences of your project stakeholders: teaching them about the new capabilities, describing a new solution, deciding what is to be done about a particular issue or risk, or simply leading a meeting to determine what a set of project requirements might be. 

Effective teachers are aware of the different learning styles found in their students, and alter their teaching approach to accommodate those preferences. There is also a feedback loop in teaching, very much like the sender-receiver model of effective communications. It isn’t enough to deliver your information to your stakeholders, such as teaching them about a new graphical modeling technique. You must make sure to confirm that those project stakeholders have learned what was needed and can apply what they have learned. 

Remember, there are three types of learners that you typically encounter as a teacher.  They include visual learners, who learn best by seeing something done. Next up are the auditory learners who learn best by hearing or reading things. Kinesthetic (tactile) learners are those who learn best by doing something for themselves. Your interactions and communication with your project stakeholders should be designed to facilitate learning for all three types of learners so folks really “get” what you are telling them.

Applying your teaching skills when you are communicating with your project stakeholders can certainly impact the quality of the information received and understood by those stakeholders.  Remember to put on your “teacher hat” when necessary to make sure everyone understands what they need to know.  This should help your stakeholders stay on the same page with the project team, targeting a successful project outcome.

If you are looking to refine or validate your communication skills on your projects, take a look at Learning Tree’s 3-day course on effective communications.  This course is certainly a great place to begin or revisit how well you are communicating  and to learn some new skills and techniques for communicating with your project stakeholders even better still.

Susan Weese

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