Obtaining Senior Executive Engagement

Senior executive engagement is critical to the success of any complex project.

It can have a direct impact through budget allocation, resource assignment or the removal of obstacles to change. It can also help indirectly motivate the team by emphasizing the importance of the project or simply through regular communications that celebrate wins.

So why does executive engagement vary so much if it is so important? The reason is because real engagement is often due to personal factors that extend beyond the project and are specific to a particular executive. It will be hard for project managers to influence these factors, but it’s important to understand them. Figure out early what motivations are involved and then leverage them to your advantage.

A good stakeholder analysis (even if it is one that is private and not circulated across the project team) should be able to help here. It should cover these personal factors for relevant senior executives: Is it a good project for their career? Will it generate political capital? Do they have a close personal relationship with someone on the project? And so on . . . Consider (from a senior executive point of view) “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) as well as “what could be bad for me”.

Some rules for getting senior executives engaged:

  • They don’t have a lot of time so all messages to them need to be clear and simple.
  • They are focused on budgets and are very sensitive to cost increases that go beyond commitments already made upwards.
  • They are competitive and always looking for success so clear sound bites on progress or achievements will be well received.
  • And lastly, remember that behind all business objectives are personal objectives . . . find out what they are and unlock real senior executive engagement.

The Intellilink Team