On the last couple of projects, the project manager thought everything was going great, until the end, when project stakeholders surprised her with negative feedback.
For example, she recently had an 8-month long project where she had monthly stakeholder meetings. All of these meetings went very well. She thought it was all smooth sailing…until the last meeting, which was the project closure meeting. Through the project the stakeholders were all very amiable and polite, signing off on everything that she presented, including project change orders. The meetings usually ended by the sponsor thanking her for the good work she’d been doing. However, in the final meeting, when she turned over the project deliverables and announced that the project was done, she asked for their final feedback. It was as if she was talking to different people. They didn’t agree that the project was well done and they criticized her management of the whole project from the start.
This didn’t just happen once, however, it happened in similar ways on her last two projects as well.
This has shaken her confidence. What is making them change their attitude at the end? When she asks them this, they say they must have been unhappy the whole time, but just didn’t communicate it. Why can’t stakeholders be trusted for honest feedback during the project? Is this a normal problem for other project managers? Why are stakeholders doing this?
Your task is to brainstorm as to what the project manager can do to manage negative feedback? Specifically:
- What should the project manager do to better understand the stakeholders’ true feelings?
- How can the project manager improve interactions with the stakeholders?
- What could the project manager do differently the next time the project manager has a project with these project stakeholders?