“Unless businesses truly engage their stakeholders, they are paying one set of employees to initiate change and another to resist it.”
Stakeholders, those people who will be affected by or can influence your project, hold your project success in their hands.
It is in your interest to manage your Stakeholders from the start and to keep managing them throughout the project and until the benefits sought from investing in the project are realised.
A couple of tips – twelve in fact
- Identify your Stakeholders from the moment the project starts
- Keep identifying them through the life of the project, even in the final project stages as your Stakeholders may be changing right to the end
- Never neglect someone who believes they are your Stakeholder, even if you don’t think they are. If engaged they can be your biggest ally, if neglected your worst nightmare
- Never accept the Stakeholders who tell you they support your project and therefore do not need to be involved along the way. Accept this “Stakeholder at a distance” scenario at your peril as this so often turns into, “that wasn’t what I expected,” at the point it is too late and costly to change
- Understand exactly what your Stakeholders need to know and be capable of doing in order to sustain your project changes post project
- Plan actions with your Stakeholders that build throughout the project and are capable of getting them where they need to be at project closure
- Place Stakeholder management as a regular project team meeting agenda item and be rigorous in reviewing progress and plans
- Support and guide the project team in taking an active role in managing the project Stakeholders
- Create genuine opportunities for your Stakeholders to influence project progress, have their ideas valued and their concerns expressed
- Don’t walk away from the project until the Stakeholders can demonstrate their commitment and ability to work with the project outputs and thus secure the benefits sought
- Let them smell you coming. A great lesson I learnt from walking in the wild and into a pride of lions. Have the wind to your back so the animals you are walking towards can smell you approaching and get out of your way. A surprised animal can be a dangerous one, same goes for your Stakeholders. So for every Stakeholder check that they are increasingly engaged and informed as the project progresses to achieve the “no surprise factor”
- Even if you are not held accountable for measuring project benefits post project it can be in your own best interest to find out. Why? Your credibility and reputation with your future Stakeholders can be assisted by being able to evidence past project success with concrete data
The most important factor is to really see Stakeholder management as an integral and continuous part of managing a project to success and having the bottle to go into the heat and manage the relationships, emotions, conflict and egos that will inevitably be present.