This article contains instructions, advice, or how-to content. (August 2016)
Stakeholder management is a critical component to the successful delivery of any project, programme or activity. A stakeholder is any individual, group or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a programme. Stakeholder management creates positive relationships with stakeholders through the appropriate management of their expectations and agreed objectives. Stakeholder management is a process and control that must be planned and guided by underlying principles. Stakeholder management within businesses, organizations, or projects prepares a strategy using information (or intelligence) gathered during the following common processes.
The first step in your stakeholder analysis is to brainstorm who your stakeholders are. As part of this, think of all the people who are affected by your work, who have influence or power over it, or have an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion. Remember that although stakeholders may be both organizations and people, ultimately you must communicate with people. Make sure that you identify the correct individual stakeholders within a stakeholder organization. So in a nutshell, the stakeholder management comprises four steps, which are below,
- Identify, recognize and acknowledge stakeholder;
- Determine their influence and interest;
- Establish communication management plan
- Influencing and engaging stakeholder
Prioritize Your Stakeholders
You may now have a long list of people and organizations that are affected by your work. Some of these may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care. Map out your stakeholders on a Power/Interest Grid as shown by the image, and classify them by their power over your work and by their interest in your work. There are other tools available to map out your stakeholders and how best to influence them.
For example, your boss is likely to have high power and influence over your projects and high interest. Your family may have high interest, but are unlikely to have power over it. Someone's position on the grid shows you the actions you have to take with them:
- High power, interested people: these are the people you must fully engage and make the greatest efforts to satisfy.
- High power, less interested people: put enough work in with these people to keep them satisfied, but not so much that they become bored with your message.
- Low power, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising. These people can often be very helpful with the detail of your project.
- Low power, less interested people: again, monitor these people, but do not bore them with excessive communication.
Understanding Your Key Stakeholders
You now need to know more about your key stakeholders. You need to know how they are likely to feel about and react to your project. You also need to know how best to engage them in your project and how best to communicate with them. Key questions that can help you understand your stakeholders are:
- What financial or emotional interest do they have in the outcome of your work? Is it positive or negative?
- What motivates them most of all?
- What information do they want from you?
- How do they want to receive information from you? What is the best way of communicating your message to them?
- What is their current opinion of your work? Is it based on good information?
- Who influences their opinions generally, and who influences their opinion of you? Do some of these influencers therefore become important stakeholders in their own right?
- If they are not likely to be positive, what will win them around to support your project?
- If you don't think you will be able to win them around, how will you manage their opposition?
- Who else might be influenced by their opinions? Do these people become stakeholders in their own right?
Key principles of Stakeholder engagement
- Communicate: To ensure intended message is understood and the desired response achieved.
- Consult, early and often: To get the useful information and ideas, ask questions.
- Remember, they are human: Operate with an awareness of human feelings.
- Plan it: Time investment and careful planning against it, has a significant payoff.
- Relationship: Try to engender trust with the stakeholders.
- Simple but not easy: Show your care. Be empathetic.Listen to the stakeholders.
- Managing risk: Stakeholders can be treated as risk and opportunities that have probabilities and impact.
- Compromise: Compromise across a set of stakeholders' diverging priorities.
- Understand what is success: Explore the value of the project to the stakeholder.
- Take responsibility: Project governance is the key of project success
It is well acknowledged that any given organization will have multiple stakeholders including, but not limited to, customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, and so forth. Within the field of marketing, it is believed that customers are one of the most important stakeholders for managing its long-term value, with a firm's major objective being the management of customer satisfaction.
Engaging and Communicating with Stakeholders
With a clear understanding of your Stakeholders, engaging and communicating can be achieved through a variety of channels based upon who the stakeholder is.
- High power, interested people: Manage closely. Best channels: Issue, Change Logs, Status Meetings
- High power, less interested people: Keep satisfied. Best channels: Steering Committee, Board Meeting Updates
- Low power, interested people: Keep informed. Best channels: In-Person, Video, Email Updates
- Low power, less interested people: Monitor. Best channels: Send Email, Status Reports
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