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Why Does My Stakeholder Escalate Issues?

Giles is upset about what he is hearing. The stakeholder whom he works with has again escalated an issue to his manager. He finds it odd that despite all the hard work he does for the stakeholder ‘silly’ stuff gets forwarded on to his leader. He calls his friend, Sharon to share his situation and seek her views. What follows is a conversation between them. Think about the situation and contribute your perspectives.

Giles: “Thanks Sharon for taking the time. I haven’t been sleeping well these days thinking of the issues that keep getting escalated.”

Sharon: “That’s ok. I am happy to be a sounding board”.

Giles: “You know I work hard and give it all I have. My stakeholder in the engineering team has worked with me for a few months now and we often meet regularly. I have attended most of the meetings she calls for. I also try and give updates on time. Sometimes, I miss it due to other pressing work.”

Sharon: “That’s interesting. Have you let her know when you were unable to share an update and the reasons?”


Giles: “You know how it is. There are multiple campaigns to manage, many people stop by my desk and I need to respond. There are others who ping me on the instant messenger service. Then, there is my manager who expects me to review other stuff. All this means that sometimes I am unable to give an update.”

Sharon: “So, have you found a way out to manage your time better and to engage your stakeholder differently?”

Giles: “Well, I have a list which I look at. Although, I don’t know if that is what I need to be working on for the day. We have a team meeting where we catch-up. I can’t get through all the e-mail that pours in. Some ask for information, some are just fyi and some are actions which need to be taken. Now I go ‘offline’ on instant messenger to avoid those numerous requests that people ask online. I have started to take a ‘break’ from the non-stop work by sitting in the cafeteria for a while.”

Sharon: “What does your stakeholder think about your ability to deliver work?”

Giles: “It seems patchy. Sometimes they think I do well, often times they are upset that I don’t keep them posted.”

Sharon: “What stops you from letting them know?”

Giles: “I am trying to be more organized but there is always that gap. Why do they need to get so upset about not getting an update? Why can’t they see how much I have already done for them?“

Sharon: “What does your manager think about all this?”

Giles: “She is obviously upset that the stakeholder doesn’t get their update on time and expects more of me.”

Sharon: “Not surprising. I would too if I was managing anyone. No one likes surprises you see! Would you?”

Giles: “What surprises? I think it is all going fine. I don’t think there is an issue.”

Sharon: “You don’t? Then, why would there ever be an escalation? What do you think escalations mean and do?”

Giles: “I guess they only mean that the stakeholder is acting funny and being ‘mean’!”

Sharon: “Giles! You really need to think about this. This can lead to other stuff. Do you want to chat again after a few weeks and check if there have been any improvements?”

Giles: “Hmm. I probably need to have a think.”

How can you help Giles see the implications of his actions or rather inactions?

3 thoughts on “Why Does My Stakeholder Escalate Issues?

  1. Well, not being able to find time to send an update only means Giles is not prioritizing his important tasks. The first thing on his to-do list has to be ‘Send an update to stakeholder’. A simple email takes less than a few seconds.
    Second, one must not get personal and assume that the manager wants to be mean. Everyone has to deliver – Giles or his manager and that means, there are common business goals to look at.

  2. Wow Aniisu! I like the way you articulate the issue so well and also use this as a platform for inviting thought . Kudos and keep doing what you’re doing.

    My two cents on this issue:

    We live in a very demanding world and unless we each commit to going the extra mile, we cannot build companies and communities for the future – Giles probably needs to be aware that each person taking an extra step goes a long way.

    But purpose and ideals aside,

    1. prioritization is underrated and how. The same to do list looks very different once you assign weightages to each activity – just do a nice to do – must do classification or an effort – impact estimate and suddenly the world makes sense again 🙂

    2. Teams exist for a reason 🙂 conversations or catch-up with the teammates is essential especially in stressful times – take those 5 mins in the morning everyday to bounce things off with Sharon or anyone else who can understand. Will open up options in terms of maybe delegating some of the work or understanding what’s important and what’s not.

    3. Measure your own progress whenever you change something in your working style – how we work has to evolve in this changing world. Unless we take stock of whether something works, we will never realize what has to change.

    I hope this makes sense. Awesome platform we’ve got here.

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