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8 Tips to Effectively Manage Stakeholders

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Properly managing stakeholders can be difficult, but there are some key tips that will help you manage these important staffers more effectively. Business professionals have commented for this article on techniques such as engaging stakeholders, identifying stakeholders, and communicating properly with stakeholders.

Successful stakeholder management will give a company a healthy stakeholders project environment – and a major competitive advantage. 

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How To Work With Stakeholders: Key Tips

Identify All The Stakeholders At The Beginning Of The Project

Identifying stakeholders is a necessary step in working with stakeholders. Stakeholders can include people who work on a project, groups of key people, or possibly even a segment of the entire population. A stakeholder may be affected by the outcome, and can also affect the project’s success. 

Stakeholders can be:

  • The project manager, sponsor, and team
  • The individual customers
  • Outside organizations
  • Suppliers and other resources
  • Employees
  • Unions
  • Any position for supporting or preventing project success

Sean K. August, CEO of The August Wealth Management Group says that identifying the stakeholders gives businesses “communication and engagement strategies to meet their specific needs.”

Ensure All The Stakeholders Agree On The Project’s Deliverables And What Their Roles Are

The stakeholders should be involved in decision-making. Make sure stakeholders are aware of what their roles are, and that they agree on the project’s goal. Experts agree that it is necessary to be clear and listen to the stakeholders:

“When it comes to looking after your stakeholders, one mistake managers make is assuming they know what their stakeholders want and expect. But that leads to wasted time, effort, and money, and a group of very unhappy people who will probably speak up about it,” says Nirav Sheh, Anatta, CEO & Founder.

He adds, “So before you make decisions that affect them, ask your stakeholders what they want first. If you’re not able to give them what they want, explain why and offer an alternative.”

Get Consensus On How To Handle Changes To The Project

Changes are guaranteed to happen throughout a project. To continue managing the project with stakeholders, John Elster, CEO at EcomHalo recommends keeping the communication channels open, “To avoid confusion or complacency, keep in regular contact with each stakeholder. Be prepared to make changes as required and keep the stakeholders fully up to date with any diversion from your plan.”

Practice Good Communication

Again, this is something that needs to be defined at the start of the project. The project team must determine the frequency of communication and what it will include. 

Pablo Diaz-Gutierrez, co-owner and CTO of Appfluence advises communication with stakeholders regularly, keeping stakeholders “informed of project progress, changes, and any other relevant information. This helps build trust and ensures they are aware of how their needs are being addressed.”

Common ways to communicate with stakeholders:

  • Email and call updates
  • Progress reports
  • Presentations
  • Meetings with various stakeholders
  • Surveys
  • Online portals
  • Content access
  • Yearly stakeholder updates
  • Members’ events and lunches
  • Stakeholder project meetings

Keep The Project Vision Visible

Visibility between stakeholders and the companies they work with is necessary to achieve the best result. If the stakeholders or companies are not aware, managing can be close to impossible.

Jess Rodley, Director of Operations at Dialed Labs notes that, “of course, for this to be successful it requires trust and transparency on both sides. You need to be willing to listen to your stakeholders and take their feedback seriously, even if it’s not what you want to hear. And your stakeholders need to be willing to work together and respect each other’s perspectives, even if they don’t always agree.” 

To keep the project visibility as early as the planning phase, a company needs to communicate with the stakeholders. These topics should be discussed in advance.

What stakeholders, clients, project teams, and top management need to know:

  • Objectives
  • Goals
  • Scope
  • Changes
  • Expectations

Once the whole project has been discussed with complete transparency, the project will run smoothly.

Engage Stakeholders Throughout The Process

Engagement is required throughout the project, otherwise the project is likely to fail. The company may ask for something, but not have any stakeholder opinions. Engaging stakeholders throughout the project will keep the conversation open for needs and wants.

Simon Bacher, Co-founder and CEO of Ling App says, “Keep stakeholders engaged. Involve them in decision-making processes, seek their feedback, and celebrate milestones together. This can help to build a sense of ownership and commitment among your stakeholders, which can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.”

Manage Expectations for Stakeholders

Managing expectations is necessary to keep the project on track, ensuring there are no misunderstandings.

“The first step in managing expectations is providing a clear understanding of the full scope of work, as well as clarifying who will be working on each part of the project and any major milestones or deadlines. From there, you need to keep them updated regularly, so that they’re aware of how the project is progressing,” says Logan Mallory, VP at Motivosity.

“Keep a regular schedule for delivering these updates, as that also helps to manage expectations. The more clear you’re able to be about what you can and will deliver, the better you’ll be able to manage stakeholders’ expectations.” 

To avoid confusion regarding expectations, you should:

  • Define roles and responsibilities for everyone involved
  • Define schedules with the team
  • Establish what will be used
  • Have a communication plan

Empathize With Other Stakeholders

Having empathy for stakeholders involves looking at the project and seeing it from the stakeholders’ perspective. This helps a company be less defensive over their wants and needs for the project.

Stakeholders’ suggestions should be taken into consideration especially after analyzing their perspectives. If stakeholders suggest a design or action, they may be paying more attention to future and current user activity. The stakeholders and the company are both on the same team, and they both want the best for the project. 

If a company is having trouble empathizing, experts suggest these tips:

  • Ask stakeholders questions: Personal or business questions can help connect a positive relationship, even offering more connection through the project.
  • Work together: As stated previously, both stakeholders and business partners want the best for their project. Communication and collaboration are necessary throughout the project.
  • Consider their needs: Stakeholders are people separate from their jobs. Creating an environment that values each individual can make stakeholders feel respected.

Bottom Line: Stakeholder Management

Managing stakeholders can seem difficult but will make any project easier and more open to communication. 

Being open and transparent to stakeholders is vital. Perhaps most important, listening and following through on stakeholders’ opinions can make managing stakeholders easier than ever before.

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