“Exceptional businesses invest their bottom-line profits to benefit their stakeholders in a meaningful way.” Once, Punit Renjen stated.
In a time when everything and everyone connects by networks of glass and air, no country, business, or organization is an island.
To create wealth for stakeholders, we must act ethically toward all of them. And one thing is for sure: on a collapsing planet, it is difficult for an organization to succeed.
Product management sometimes resembles a zero-sum contest. Your product development resources are limited; therefore, if someone requests that you add anything to the roadmap, it will have to come at the sacrifice of something else.
Making the best decisions with the available resources is typically the key to effective product management. A product manager must frequently refuse ideas, requests, and even urgent demands from internal stakeholders and external clients to be successful.
It’s common to worry that saying no may hurt crucial relationships.
Relationships are essential to your job as product managers, but it’s also crucial that we maintain the balance and success of our products.
However, this doesn’t imply that you must be antagonistic or combative with the numerous interested parties who will approach you with requests you cannot meet.
Product managers must know when and how to turn down requests from stakeholders while still promoting a culture of openness and creativity if they carry out the product strategy.
‘No.’ merely two letters. Just one easy word.
But why is refusing sometimes so challenging?
I believe that refusing is often accompanied by remorse for many people. Perhaps you worry about disappointing someone. Maybe you’re hesitant to decline someone, or perhaps you try to please everyone.
The best advice on how to tell your stakeholders “NO” is provided in this article.
Who Are These Stakeholders?
A stakeholder is a party with a fascination with a business who has the potential to influence or be affected by it. A corporation’s investors, employees, clients, and suppliers comprise its primary stakeholders.
Companies frequently have to make trade-offs to appease their stakeholders because they all have distinct interests.
However, the broad idea encompasses communities, governments, and trade groups due to the growing focus on corporate social responsibility.
An organization’s stakeholders may be internal or external. Internal stakeholders are directly interested in a firm, such as employment, ownership, or investment.
External stakeholders don’t work for a company but still impact its decisions and results. Suppliers, borrowers, and government agencies are all regarded as external stakeholders.
The primary responsibility of a stakeholder is to lend their expertise and viewpoint to a project to assist them in achieving their strategic aims. Additionally, they can offer the resources and supplies needed.
Their support is essential to a project’s success; if they don’t like the outcomes, the project could still be viewed as a failure, even though all objectives were achieved.
They want to comprehend the project’s business case and ensure it aligns with the overall business plan. They concentrate on allocating the required resources to guarantee the project’s success and assume responsibility for the accurate deliverables.
They also have the following additional duties:
- Observe the project development and communicate information to those requiring it.
- Locating and addressing any project problems and dangers, particularly those related to handling change throughout the transition period.
- Investing the resources required to guarantee the project’s success.
Types of Stakeholders:
Understanding the various stakeholder categories will help your company prepare to address as many of their needs as possible.
Many would contend that companies are there to serve their clients. Customers are stakeholders in a company because they are affected by the value and quality of the goods and services offered. For instance, when boarding a flight, a passenger practically places their life in the hands of the airline.
Sales can be negatively impacted if clients are dissatisfied with a company’s products or overall customer service skills. Customers may be concerned with how a company’s products enhance their lives or give them what they desire or require.
Suppliers are individuals or organizations that supply goods to your company and depend on you to generate income from selling those commodities.
Since their products directly impact how your organization operates, suppliers frequently have safety on their minds in addition to thinking about how to increase their revenue.
Suppliers, contractors and vendors, and other parties who depend on the company for their commercial success are all considered stakeholders.
These parties may have financial responsibility for operational expenses, personnel salaries, and business loans. Vendors and suppliers frequently require alliances with other businesses to remain in business.
Because they receive benefits and an income to maintain themselves, employees have a direct financial interest in the business (both monetary and non-monetary).
The nature of the firm will determine whether employees’ interests in health and safety exist (for example, in the industries of transportation, oil and gas, and construction.)
When a company struggles, it can affect how its employees feel about it, how loyal they can be to their employer, and how productive they can be. To ensure the highest level of safety and productivity, companies should strive to provide their employees with premium quality trophies to motivate them and show appreciation for their work
Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that the company’s senior executives are stakeholders.
They often make critical business decisions, such as how to grow the company and what initiatives to embark on.
Owners can be investors, but they can also be third parties entitled to timely and accurate information, such as financial statements, regularly. Investors also can support or oppose important decisions like mergers and acquisitions.
Both debt holders and shareholders are considered investors, and investors put money into the company with the expectation of receiving a specific rate of return.
The idea of shareholder value concerns investors frequently. All additional capital providers, such as lenders and possible buyers, are grouped with this.
A company’s activities can enhance the neighborhood it operates in, making a community a stakeholder in and of itself. Due to the potential for new jobs and increased economic growth, a business can significantly impact a community.
Businesses that move into a neighborhood frequently entice people who want to work for them and relocate there if they land a job, which will inevitably boost local spending.
Governments can also be seen as a significant stakeholders in a business since they collect taxes from the enterprise (corporate income taxes), from every employee (payroll taxes), and from other expenditures the enterprise makes (sales taxes).
The total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that businesses contribute is beneficial to governments.
Governmental organizations can likewise be considered significant stakeholders in a company, and they levy taxes on the business, its workers, and other expenditures the business makes.
Governmental bodies monitor a company’s operations because they may have regulations that a corporation must abide by.
To promote its brand, every company needs ties with media publications. Businesses frequently require press interaction when they need to make a significant announcement or promote a product.
Tips for Saying ‘No’:
Discuss and Acknowledge the Requirements.
The first step is to acknowledge the business request and discuss it with the stakeholders. They are interested in the system if they have proposed new requirements or changes to the functionality already in place, and it will foster an environment conducive to further debate.
It may sound harsh to jump to a conclusion before considering your stakeholders’ needs.
Therefore, before responding “No! We cannot accept or implement this request,” take some time to grasp what the requirements are exactly.
With Stakeholders, Be Clear: Is That a No? Or Not?
Don’t leave the door open if you’re suggesting that the team won’t ever work on this feature to tempt the stakeholder to ask again later. They are wasting their time, and you are wasting your time by having to say no repeatedly when you know you will never implement that feature.
The stakeholder may be persuaded to put off the demand until the following phase or post-go-live plan.
Please ensure they realize that the requirements are being added to other releases, not rejected. Share the approximate chronological line if you can. Business stakeholders won’t feel disregarded, and you’ll be able to delay the demand for the time being. There will be mutual benefit from this.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Declining.
It can be difficult to refuse an offer.
But being able to refuse is an essential element of the work of a product person. If you agreed to every suggestion and request, your product would have a feature soup, a weak value proposition, and a bad user experience.
Using Data and Facts To Refuse.
Presenting statistics, facts, and data is the most effective approach to removing emotion from a debate. Let the statistics do the talking.
It works effectively for stakeholders with analytical mindsets or technological organizations with data-driven corporate cultures. Make use of the statistics to back up your arguments.
Express Gratitude and Compassion Towards Your Stakeholders.
Product owners should always acknowledge the stakeholder who made the feature request and let them know they understand why the functionality is significant to them.
Someone took the time to ask your team a question. That implies that they have an interest in your offering. Let them identify how much you value their inquiry. You only have to say something like this:
“I’m grateful. I appreciate you considering how we could improve our product.”
Say “No” When There Is Truly No Other Option.
It frequently occurs in top-down communication when management decides to act in a given way without consulting all the parties who will be impacted. For legal or other reasons, they might not have been able to articulate the rationale or logic behind it.
It would help if you allowed the other team members to know about this, emphasizing that although management found it difficult to make this choice, it was the best course of action given the circumstances.
Offer Substitute Answers.
Offering alternate options is always preferable to just rejecting the requirements. Before interacting with business users or stakeholders, you can do some research.
Business users will come to you for more requirements if they want to get something out of the system. They might not be aware of any alternative methods for completing their work.
A different solution can therefore be used to end the discussion during the actual meeting. If stakeholders receive at least a backup plan for solving their issue, they will leave happy.
Show That You All Share the Same Objective.
When giving negative news, the product owner should identify common goals with the seeking stakeholder.
Stakeholders and the product owner may have a wide range of objectives. And yes, there are moments when they clash. However, there is typically a higher, product-level objective that you can refer to.
Even if the stakeholder disagrees entirely with the answer, pointing out that you both have the same objective makes it easier for them to comprehend why you have to say no.
Do Something Nice While Saying ‘No.’
You never want to do it, but you eventually have to deliver bad news. However, if you take care of the stakeholders, it will be less complicated for you. But how will you go about it?
You might, however, describe how you have previously granted requests that have made their work very simple. Remind them of the problems they’ve previously had that you promptly resolved by proactively working on them.
Inviting people over for coffee or providing them with some handmade goodies is another fantastic idea. Your dialogue will become more informal, and the stakeholders will find it quite simple to follow them.
Putting It All Together:
Saying no is made much simpler by being transparent, giving one explanation instead of several, showing empathy and appreciation, implying that we have the same final aim, outlining the repercussions of saying yes, and presenting an alternative.
Saying “no” in the right circumstances can strengthen rather than deteriorate a product owner’s relationship with the stakeholder.
Yes! You might have resentful or cranky internal stakeholders as a result. Be prepared to listen to a lot of grumbling, protesting, and occasionally shouting. It would help if you didn’t take it personally, though, as it can impact your work.
Being accurate, truthful, and willing to help others when you can are the keys to success.