Project management is challenging because of all the factors within consideration during decision-making. You have to work towards project success while catering to everyone affected by your decision and managing stakeholders’ expectations.
And that applies to office relocation, too. Of course, there are many critical aspects to any new project, but relocation feels like a whole new adventure with its unique project objectives.
It’s very demanding on its own. But it can get overwhelming when you also have to manage stakeholders’ expectations to keep them all pleased and in the loop, especially if you don’t have a concrete plan.
We’ve written this nifty walk-through to help you maintain good stakeholder management so you can streamline the entire process, so keep reading for more!
The Short Answer
Managing stakeholder expectations is crucial to any successful project manager. After all, businesses aren’t built solely on one person’s work.
You should first identify major influencers within your business who are affected by the move, including primary and secondary stakeholders.
The tricky part with identification is recognizing the different levels of influence each stakeholder has and how they measure success. They might object to some of your decisions, and that’s why you should prepare a good project plan with solid evidence of how it can benefit your company.
Make sure you don’t exaggerate, though. Realistic expectations are essential, and you should disclose potential risks to the move.
Have a solid plan throughout – all the wheres and hows. You can also employ a commercial moving service to do the heavy-lifting for you.
Lastly, maintain a solid communication schedule with your stakeholders where you can keep them up-to-date on the most critical aspects of the move.
Why You Should Manage Stakeholder Expectations
As cliche as it is, teamwork really makes the dream work. Good project managers know the importance of stakeholder communication and building solid relationships with your partners to achieve any project’s objectives.
On the contrary, a divided team won’t function as well because they’ll have different strategies. And if you force a system on dissatisfied stakeholders, they won’t find the motivation to work with you, and they might pull resources right away.
The first step is to identify who is most affected by the relocation. This is the first step to stakeholder management in any other business decision, not just office relocation.
It’s important to realize that not all stakeholders hold similar sway. Different stakeholders have various levels of power and interests over the project. But at the end of the day, you should have them all on the same page.
These are the “big guns”, so to say. They have the most influence over the project. You’ll need to consult them, keep them informed on all the details, and maintain a healthy relationship since they ultimately determine the outcome of the entire plan.
This category includes upper management, shareholders, senior executives, and key customers (especially among small businesses).
The most impacted stakeholders are possibly your employees, especially those who work in the office you’re changing.
Although they don’t have as much sway, you should keep monitoring them, giving them confidence in the move, and receiving input.
There won’t be much of a fuss with office workers if you’re making a small move across the block or within the same complex. Maybe one or two complaints about the new parking or the coffee machine, but nothing serious.
But if you’re moving to a new town or somewhere noticeably farther, you’re likely risking a high turnover rate since the new commute might not suit everyone.
Of course, you won’t always satisfy everyone. But it’s a matter of balance and communication.
Not all offices receive clients. Those that don’t won’t have a problem with customer expectations during relocation.
However, companies that interact with customers regularly should factor in their clients if they don’t want to risk fading to irrelevance.
A supplier is possibly the easiest stakeholder to please since they need you to keep buying from them. Still, you need to inform them because the new location might not be worth it.
Set Realistic Expectations
A stakeholder’s expectations vary depending on their interest in the move. For example, some office workers might resign because the new location doesn’t suit them, but that’s OK if other stakeholders like upper management and clients are happy with the move.
The key here is to set realistic stakeholder expectations – not too high or too low.
Listen to Key Stakeholders
Good project management relies on openness to feedback. Sometimes, members of leadership or other departments see things differently, and they’ll want to share it with you.
Other times, your boss or shareholders will throw in their two cents about the whole project.
In any case, you should approach constructive criticism with an open mind, especially from people interested in the company’s success.
Keep Project Stakeholders Updated
Make sure your stakeholders are always in the loop about the move. Communicate changes in the plan promptly because you don’t want to surprise your stakeholders about any progress.
Not all stakeholders need to know all the details, though.
For instance, low-sway stakeholders like vendors and interns don’t need to know about the costs involved or the office moving companies you’re exploring.
Final Say on Stakeholder Management
We know that many stakeholders are difficult to deal with. Maybe they only give you negative feedback or trivialize the project. So naturally, this can make communication channels deteriorate because who needs conflict when most projects are stressful enough already.
It’s easy to develop a “me vs them” mentality under this pressure. But you should remember that you’re all part of the same team and want the same objectives: company success.
So don’t take their criticisms personally. In most cases, you both want the same result, but they might not see things from your perspective.
So it’s best to deescalate the situation and persuade them of your position calmly. But don’t bend too much, either. Instead, be respectfully assertive or use stats and research.