How to effectively manage your stakeholders

Stakeholders are simply humans or groups that hold a stake in the project. Each human is different with their own interests and that is why it is sometimes difficult to manage them.
Here are some tips for managing Stakeholders better:

  • Be authentic!
  • What’s in it for them?
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  • Be emotionally intelligent
  • Learn what makes them tick!

Managing stakeholders means not leaving their engagement level to a chance but also playing an active role in ensuring their support and reduction of any kind of resistance. Stakeholder management is important to keep you client happy and balance expectations from both sides.

This process involves three key steps:
1. Stakeholder identification
Do not make a mistake here, anyone can be a key stakeholder, not just sponsor or other direct stakeholder. Here are some questions that could help you identify a stakeholder:

  • Who will feel the effects of the project?
  • Who is responsible for making decisions in the project?
  • Who has not been involved but should have been involved in the project?

It is important to mention that identification of a stakeholder is not one time activity but rather a continuous process throughout the project. Stakeholders influence each other so this process should not be rushed.

2. Stakeholder analysis
Now when the stakeholder is identified it is time to analyze it. Stakeholder analysis can be done using a power-interest matrix.

 

  1. Keep them satisfied. Stakeholders usually have very little interest in the project but they have great power over it in terms of continuation. The best way is to keep them in a loop by inviting to project updates or other occasional meetings.
  2. Minimal effort. Some stakeholders have little power over the project thus the best thing is not to overlook them.
  3. Engage closely. Stakeholders that have high level of power and interest are the most important. This type of stakeholder that you should keep in your side and have daily reports. 1-2-1 updates.
  4. Keep them informed. This applies to stakeholders that have low power over the project but high interest. The best thing is to provide them with daily newsletter with updates.

Keep in mind that work in progress process and important stakeholder of today may be different tomorrow.

3. Management of Stakeholder’s engagement
Project management is all about relationships and handling some stakeholders may require specific skillset such as:

  • Excellent communication
  • Ability to resolve and influence conflicts
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Emotional intelligence

It is important that stakeholders would feel comfortable expressing concerns or expectations and the project manager is responsible for that.

Despite best efforts, it’s always a challenge to please everyone so you should pick your battles wisely. Also despite no matter how much effort you put into managing Stakeholders, there will always be those that you cannot win over.
Don’t get too frustrated, and remember the 20-60-20 change rule:

  • 20% will be on board and ready to do what’s necessary to implement the changes.
  • 60% will understand the need for change, still be skeptical of it, but grudgingly willing to go along.
  • 20% will not be on board at all.

While it’s up to a leader to champion the cause of change, there is never likely to be a situation when 100% of the staff are fully on board. The first step in managing this issue is accepting that reality. It’s hard to do!

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Curious about what Steerco can contribute to your stakeholder management process? Please contact us for more information.