6 red flags when collaborating with stakeholders

Recently I asked Product Managers from the ProductTank Sofia Community about some 🚩 to look out for when collaborating with stakeholders. I collected some insights that can serve as an early warning system. When you see any of those described below, it’s time to rethink how you influence your stakeholders.

1️⃣ Coming with a ready-made solution in mind instead of a problem.

How to handle: Try to go back a couple of steps. Use the problem – insights – hypothesis – solution(s) approach. You may arrive at a much better solution than the proposed one.

2️⃣ Making product decisions based on gut feeling rather than on evidence.

How to handle: Know your facts. Mention that the data points in a different direction and respectfully ask for a meeting to explain. Come loaded with facts, examples, and customer feedback. Prepare the data in a visually understandable format to match your stakeholder’s attention span.

3️⃣ Acting on behalf of the product team or taking over the role of the PM. For example, a CEO/CPO/C-level working with engineers directly or making unrealistic time estimates on behalf of the product team.

How to handle: Try to clarify the importance of accountability relative to achieving your goals. If this behavior continues, probably better to move on. Clear accountability and responsibilities are critical to product success.

4️⃣ Not dedicating enough time to make the needed decisions.

How to handle: Split your requests into small, manageable pieces and take them one by one. Wait for the previous request to be completed before moving to the next one. When in a meeting, be very specific about what the meeting is about and what the expected result is.

5️⃣ Communicating ambiguously or in an unstructured way.

How to handle: Clear and respectful feedback goes a long way in this case. The person may not be aware of how the message is received on the other end. Some good techniques to use can be found here and here.

6️⃣ A non-believer in the product or the team.

How to handle: Take the time to agree on how you prefer to work together. If necessary, involve direct superiors until you reach an agreement. Only then move on to making decisions together. 

Special thanks to all contributors: Plamen Mandadjiev, Konstantin Petrov, Krasimir Tsonev, George Georgiev, Mihail Minkov, Georgi Ivanov, Mariya Rashkovska, Vassil Popovski, Kostadin Golev, Ivan Gouychev, Theo Vachovsky, Ivailo Ivanov, Doichin Iordanov, Aleksandar Rusev.