Monday, August 06, 2007

Managing Upwards

Recently a reader asked a question concerning how to manage a KM initiative when all of the other people they need to engage for success are at a higher level... stak.

Since this question comes up quite often, I am including my recommendations here...and they are open for discussion!

A great question, and a situation that is quite frequent. Well worth some good dialogue. I will do this top of mind-- and will be glad to be more specific with any additional questions you have.

First, without knowing more about your situation I say congratulations. You have a golden opportunity to increase your name recognition and have impact on the organization. This is an opportunity to use influence to manage upwards. Not easy, but I'll bet you are up to the task.

I would first consider who the major stakeholders are in the initiative. Which directors and above will be most directly impacted by the KM work? Which of those have you had contact with in the past or built a relationship with? I would start there.

It is important to understand what the stakeholders have on their minds. I would want to ask them --if this KM work is successful, how will you know? What does success look like to you? You will need to manage expectations so first you need to know what they are.

When you have those conversations, it will help you to have a very concise, brief and well crafted communication to explain what you are doing. You can have a slide deck (argh, I am such a consultant!), a project description or a story to tell them. However, give them room to provide the feedback you are asking for.

When you speak with them, stand in curiosity and hear what they have to say. They will notice. Do not make promises you can not keep, and do things in bite sized pieces. Set realistic expectations.

Ask them how they want to be kept informed-- do they want emails, meetings, voice mails, etc and how frequently do they want updates. Also, do they have people who could learn from this initiative, who may be willing to give a small percentage of time? That would keep them involved.

Lastly, remember you move people from awareness to acceptance to action and can't move them much faster then that. Create a communications plan for the stakeholders to facilitate them through those steps.

Ok, that is a lot of info...and the question is just general enough that I am not sure I have given you what you need. Please feel free to ask more-- and I will create a blog posting about it. You have a great opportunity, and if well leveraged, you can change your organization!

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