How to Effectively Manage your Key Stakeholders
Is your organization leading a new project? Here are our recommendations for how to effectively manage your key stakeholders.
The management of stakeholders is a critical component for the successful delivery of any project. A project, strategy, or activity will run more smoothly if you can get your teams on the same page to execute your project goals. Good communication involves exploratory discussions with key stakeholders and transparency into the hows, whats, whys, and whens of your involvement in the project’s success. Frequent communication is also crucial, as stakeholders have different levels of influence and interests in the project and these can change quickly.
We recommend 3 strategies to effectively manage and engage your stakeholders to achieve project success:
1. Identify Key Stakeholders
First, you need to identify which stakeholders have the most impact and influence in your project’s success. These key stakeholders include the CEO, executives, directors, as well those who are considered well-respected and influencers. You then need to meet with the critical stakeholders, discuss the plan and responsibilities, and schedule recurring follow up meetings to keep on track and maintain continuous communication.
2. Understand the Interests of Stakeholders
Key Stakeholders want to understand the big picture. The project team would already know this, but stakeholders from other departments of the organization may need to understand how their deliveries contribute to the “big picture” of the project. This communication can take place in your monthly meeting or in a quick rundown on why you are doing the project and what problems it will solve. To understand better what key stakeholders, want:
- Create a trustworthy working relationship: stakeholders need to trust you. They want to trust that you respect confidentiality. They need to know that you have personal and professional integrity.
- Confidence: to challenge and bring different perception to project discussions.
- Understand stakeholders’ true wants: the difference between understanding what a stakeholder says they “want” from what they “actually want” can help you recognize the real organizational issues and gain support and sponsorship for your overall objective.
- Understand their concerns: it is also important to get a key stakeholder teams’ perspective on issues in the change affected areas and to gain other stakeholders’ involvement and input. We suggest scheduling listening tours, monthly meetings, or surveys with teams’ extended leadership to understand the organization’s issues and concerns.
3. Engage and adjust your communication style
Stakeholders need to understand the purpose and framework to deliver the results. There are numerous ways to change behaviors:
- Promote a progressive dialogue during your meetings
- Develop a communications strategy and frame strong messaging using visual tools and story-telling techniques
- Communicate persuasively
If you don’t spend time building relationships with key stakeholders in the early stages of a change project, you will undermine future success. Stakeholder management is all about collaboration. Scheduling meetings with key stakeholders early will help form working relationships. Learning about what your key stakeholders do and do not want will help your stakeholders focus on what matters in ensuring the project’s success. Engaging in effective communication and understanding their work style as well as personality types can empower the team.
Stakeholder Management can arise in any phase of the project. The good news is that it can be effectively managed.