Home > News & Events > Key Learning #5: Stakeholders - Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

Key Learning #5: Stakeholders - Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

A challenge all managers face is working with project stakeholders and particularly the difficult ones. You know the ones I'm talking about those who show little interest and support, those who show too much interest and support, those who

Thursday 12 March 2015


A challenge all managers face is working with project stakeholders and particularly the difficult ones.  You know the ones I'm talking about those who show little interest and support, those who show too much interest and support, those who hold back until nearing completion and then tell you they're not happy and then there are those who tell you they're happy but behind your back they undermine your project.

Of course there are those who think they're a key stakeholder (but they're not), those at too low a level and those who think they will be impacted (but they won't).

Stakeholders might be individuals or groups and may include senior management, internal or external customers, suppliers, shareholders, sponsors, committees, user groups, reference groups and more. 

The critical point with stakeholders is getting the "right" ones engaged.  Without their engagement and appropriate involvement a project can (and will) fail.

Responsibility for engaging stakeholders does not stop with the Project Manager.  In my opinion, it is incumbent upon the project team members, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager and Project Sponsor to gain stakeholder support.  Yes there will of course be a stakeholder management plan, but this must outline responsibilities and the rules of engagement.

In my experience I have seen the most productive stakeholder relationships develop when the following strategies occur:

  • Involve key stakeholders early even before project commencement. Get their thoughts, ideas, needs and concerns and shape their outcome expectations
  • Develop a stakeholder management and communications plan and make sure the project team understand their role in the plan
  • Ensure stakeholders understand the project management process and their opportunities for consultation and input as well as their responsibilities and boundaries
  • Build a trusting relationship by being honest, keeping them informed and making them feel like they are the most important stakeholder

Ultimately, there will be difficult stakeholders but that's life.  They just need to be managed and nurtured in specific ways.

Can you afford to have a poor relationship with your stakeholders?  What is it costing the project and you personally?  Contact us to discuss possible options for either one-to-one coaching or our Intelligent Project Teams Program.

 

 


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