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One Project Stakeholder has it in for me…

And now she is holding up the project! Now what??

Sophia is shocked! This project, without doubt, is the absolute worst she has ever been assigned to manage – all because of one stakeholder. Sophia can’t believe that one stakeholder can make her life so miserable but certainly Annabella is doing a great job at it! Sophia isn’t sure what went wrong. Annabella has attended meetings with the other stakeholders and each time agreed with the path they were taking; however, when documents were passed off for signature to move forward – Annabella never signed one document. No matter how many times Sophia asked her about it, Annabella just brushed her off and said she had more important things to think about.

Sophia has tried to talk to the other stakeholders, but since Annabella was a senior vice president within the company, and the other stakeholders were either vice presidents or directors, they were hesitant to help out.  They certainly saw the problem and understood the situation – they just weren’t willing to do anything about it.  Additionally, Annabella had quite the reputation of getting pretty nasty if she felt people were crossing her.  Sophia wanted to go to the project sponsor; however, a few of the other project team members recommended against it as Annabella was very good friends with the sponsor and one project manager who tried to go to the project sponsor on a project in the past to complain about Annabella found himself out of a job.

And when Sophia did eventually move forward with the project when she couldn’t obtain Annabella’s  signature of approval; the whole situation escalated!  Now Annabella was complaining about her concerns not being addressed and publicly stating that the project would be a failure because it was being mismanaged.  Annabella was blaming Sophia for being incompetent and therefore leading the project to a failed conclusion!  Sophia’s reputation was on the line and she was worried about losing her job.

Here is where the project stands:

  • 2 weeks behind schedule
  • Over budget by at least $8,000
  • Team members who wanted off the team
  • Stakeholders afraid to do anything to help improve the situation
  • Annabella getting increasingly angry and lashing out, not just at Sophia but the team and the other stakeholders

What can Sophia do to improve the situation?

Sophia is in a tough spot.  She may have only limited options in front of her since this has gone on for a while and Annabella is in a higher level role with significant power and authority.  Here is an option for Sophia, which may, frankly, be the best solution:

  • Have a conversation with Annabella. There are obviously issues with Annabella and Sophia; and they need to be resolved. Sophia might approach her boss or HR about the problem and ask for help in addressing the situation with Annabella, or she may choose to meet with Annabella one-on-one to resolve the issue.

Another option may be to have a mediator help resolve the problem between Annabella and Sophia.   Given the amount of time that has passed without resolution, and the fact that it has escalated, this may be a smart choice.  A mediator can help each of them look at the situation from the other’s perspective and help them to find a common ground.

Certainly the project sponsor must be brought into the loop and the best approach here may be for Sophia to seek out the sponsor and simply state that she would like the sponsor’s assistance in helping her to develop a relationship with Annabella.

Certainly there are problems on the team as a whole.  Once the issue is resolved, team building is a definite need! The team is in disarray and the tension with the stakeholders and Annabella and Sophia are not helping matters.  It is necessary to get this team back on track.

Your thoughts?  What else can Sophia do to resolve this situation, improve her relationship with the one stakeholder and get the project back on track?  What would you advise her?  Please share your thoughts in the Comments field below.  Thanks!