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5 key points to managing stakeholder experience
In my professional career, I have worked in multiple industries and roles where the Stakeholders were from different domains which included Telecommunications, Information Technology, Healthcare, Legal, Event management, Sales and Franchising Sectors. What I learnt from my experience is that even th
5 key points to managing stakeholder experience
Awais Arif (CISSP, CRISC, LSSBB, PMP, CSM, ITIL)
Awais Arif (CISSP, CRISC, LSSBB, PMP, CSM, ITIL)
Value Drive Consulting is partnering with organisations to successfully deliver E2E Business, Process & Technology Transformation | CyberSec…
Published Aug 2, 2016
In my professional career, I have worked in multiple industries and roles where the Stakeholders were from different domains which included Telecommunications, Information Technology, Healthcare, Legal, Event management, Sales and Franchising Sectors. What I learnt from my experience is that even though the goals for each industry may be different but tools and techniques that were used in managing expectations of all the Stakeholders were very similar.
Who are Stakeholders?
Stakeholders are people involved in a project who can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives and policies.
According to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) of Project Management International (PMI), they can be internal or external and be at senior or junior levels. Some definitions suggest that stakeholders are those who have the power to impact an organisation or project in some way.
Why manage stakeholder expectations?
You can deliver the project successfully meeting all the requirements
You get satisfied customers
You can meet your own KPIs
It makes you happy and confident in yourself
You develop healthy and rewarding relationships
Your value within your organization grows and everyone wants to work on projects with you
People want to work with and for you.
The following are some key points that I believe can be used as tools to manage stakeholder expectations successfully:
1. Show them you care
Showing a client from the very beginning of anything that you care for their goals is the key to set a tone for the working relationship throughout the project. It also makes a client happy if you’ve done your homework and are prepared to talk about concerns they have.
Your previous projects’ stakeholders and their successes do not matter for the next one, the only thing that matters is what you are doing right now and what you plan to do for them in the future.
For extra points, get to know them outside of a business relationship. Strike up a personal conversation when appropriate. This will help you figure out what makes them tick and you’ll start to understand their motivations and more importantly, they’ll start to understand yours.
Developing a personal relationship goes a long way in building a stronger business relationship.
2. Constant Communication
I highly rate communication in project teams and in general. In my opinion, it is communication that helps in all all 5 PMBOK processes of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing. Within the processes, each task/activity requires quality communication as well.
Similarly, in the Sales, Service and Marketing industries, communication is the key to success. In my experience, I have seen that transparency in communication really helps in building professional relationships. Constantly communicating to clients and stakeholders keeps them in the loop and it is appreciated by them as well.
A lack of communication is usually at the root of most problems associated with clients. Any good client relationship will be able to weather setbacks if you are proactive in communicating both good and bad news. When communication is direct and transparent, trust forms and helps to create a foundation for long-lasting relationships.
Identify the stakeholder’s preferred method of communication. By using the most effective manner of communication you will help ensure the stakeholder remains content. If you make the mistake of using the wrong method (or non-preferred method) it will cause frustration and lack of confidence.
3. Be a good listener
Listening is very important. I rate it more important than speaking. When you listen to a stakeholder, you can actually scope out their requirements and what they are looking for.
One of the best ways to compensate for a client who communicates poorly is to repeat what you have heard and ask them to confirm the accuracy of key takeaways, which will ultimately impact expectations.
4. Under-Promise, Over- Deliver
As part of my Pre Sales and Management experience especially in events, I have learnt that the most disappointing thing for a client is not that a company or a person does not offer what they think need but actually it is when a company or a person promises to do something and does not deliver.
Therefore, it is always good to firstly scope out the project properly and make sure you can deliver what you are promising and then make sure it is delivered on time and with the required quality. The time to deliver should communicated keeping contingency reserves and backup plans in mind.
Accurately map expectations. Be crystal clear on the expectations from the stakeholder’s point of view. Ask them how they will measure success of the project. Inevitably you will discover conflicting definitions of success. Some will consider meeting the final deadline their number one priority. Another might consider end user functionality of the final product as most important. How do you manage these conflicts? One way would be to facilitate a meeting of all stakeholders (where practical) and help them come to mutually satisfying agreements.
Stakeholder Management Strategies
What do you know about stakeholder management? Discover four stakeholder management strategies to keep your projects running smoothly.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT · 10 MIN READ
4 Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Stakeholders
By Ian Haynes, April 27, 2022
If you haven't had the pleasure of dealing with difficult stakeholders yet, don't worry. You will soon. This means you must arm yourself with strategies to manage them amicably and continue working on the project despite possible roadblocks.
We want to help. Here are four tips to help you manage stakeholders and turn a situation around for the good of the project.
What is stakeholder management?
Stakeholder management is the process of organizing, monitoring, and maintaining relationships with stakeholders on a project. A stakeholder is any individual who is affected by your work, has power or influence over it, or interest in its success.
Managing the needs and expectations of stakeholders is the key to the success of a project. It's critical that you invest time in identifying, prioritizing, and assessing your project stakeholders to build a strong stakeholder management plan. This will help ensure that your goals align with those of your stakeholders so that your project can move forward smoothly.
Whose role is it to manage stakeholders on a project?
With so many individuals and teams involved in the success of a project, you might be wondering whose job it is to manage stakeholders. That responsibility falls on none other than the project manager, of course!
As a project manager, you need to provide leadership and guidance and also act as the bridge between your stakeholder's expectations and your team's ability to meet them. While stakeholder alignment is the goal, it’s not always the reality.
According to research conducted by Geneca, just 23% of stakeholders and project managers are in agreement when the project is done.
A good project manager should work closely with the team to accomplish tasks but also communicate and practice project stakeholder management to build rapport with senior leadership.
Why managing stakeholders is important to the health of a project
An essential aspect of managing a project is to develop positive relationships with its stakeholders.
By developing a deep understanding of your project stakeholders, project managers can create sound plans to eliminate delays, mitigate risks, and better align projects with wider business goals.
Assessing your stakeholder's interests also provides a strong basis for legal compliance, enabling you to put protocols in place that protect the privacy of stakeholders.
Red flags that signify a stakeholder may become difficult
Creating and developing a strategy for project stakeholder management is much easier said than done. Managing stakeholders can be a challenge, especially if they take actions that undermine the common cause.
To help you identify problematic stakeholders, we've put together some telltale signs that indicate you may be dealing with one:
One of the most critical aspects of managing stakeholders is capturing their expectations and project goals.
At this point during the project, you will have to clarify performance criteria, project constraints, and additional insight into how stakeholders define project success. This is the way to delegate tasks with greater confidence.
Clear and consistent communication is crucial to an effective organization — regardless of your line of work. With that in mind, stakeholders that fail to return calls or reply to emails on time don't make your job any easier. This lack of communication can also convey their disinterest in the project as a whole.
They only share critical remarks
Do your stakeholders only contribute negative comments when they give their opinions? This is yet another warning sign that you're dealing with difficult stakeholders: You're more likely to hear negative comments from stakeholder meetings during your project.
It can be very difficult to figure out how to respond to a client who is unhappy with the project status report. Sure, constructive criticism never harmed anyone — and you could even benefit from bold honesty every once in a while. However, some stakeholders might be rude and uncooperative for no actual reason.
They don’t share a sense of urgency
Your stakeholders should share the same sense of urgency from start to finish. After all, the sooner you finish, the more dollars in your pocket! If stakeholders seem to be pumping the breaks on your project or giving delayed feedback, this can hint that there is no longer a sense of urgency in their minds. Stakeholders that fail to convey a sense of urgency are a major red flag.
They pull resources from the project prematurely
If functional managers and other stakeholders refuse to release the resources required to initiate the project, they may not necessarily see the value in the project.
Consequently, your project can suffer quality issues and delays. Your best bet here is to aim for complete campaign transparency, which can help build stakeholders' trust in the project.
Reminder: Don't burn bridges
The most important thing to remember is that stakeholders also want the project to succeed. However, the way they express this desire may change over the course of the project. One day they'll support you, and the next day they'll argue if work isn't done a particular way. But they're not "switching sides" — their side is project success. It's not you vs. them.
How to Manage Common Stakeholder Issues and Challenges
In this blog post, you will learn how to reduce project complications, and how to manage stakeholders.
How to manage common stakeholder issues and challenges
Reading time: about 6 min
Project stakeholders are influential and important to your project by definition, but sometimes they can also introduce challenges into your project. As a project manager or team member, how you manage your stakeholders through communication and collaboration can directly impact your project’s success.
With the right approach to stakeholder management, you can reduce the likelihood of project issues and disruption.
Common stakeholder issues
No two stakeholders are the same, so the issues they may introduce into a project can also differ tremendously. For project managers, this means there can be many different reasons why a project encounters resistance from stakeholders or why the project team struggles to gain traction.
Identifying the stakeholder issues happening in your project can help you plan ahead and prepare an appropriate response.
Trying to align many different stakeholders
Having varied interest in the project and its outcome is usually a good thing, but a large number of different stakeholders can also pull the project team in too many directions. As anyone who’s ever ordered pizza for a team can attest to, stakeholders often struggle to make effective group decisions without careful management. Aligning too many different stakeholders together can be challenging for project managers and may introduce additional challenges to the project.
Competing priorities between stakeholders
Stakeholders carry their own expectations and goals into the project. Often, at least a few of these priorities contradict or compete with each other. Some priorities may be personal, departmental, role-based, or reflect differences in professional backgrounds.
For example, you may have a stakeholder who’s own personal goal is to wrap-up the project before they leave on vacation. They may be highly committed to seeing the project’s completion happen as soon as possible, even if this timeline is shorter than what other stakeholders might prefer.
Your team may not have all the resources they need, or your project may be using resources that other stakeholders see as essential for their own projects. Resource competition in organizations is very common – and may be a source of conflict.
Another department with a similar project in the works, for instance, might perceive your project as competition for the same resources.
Breakdowns in communication
Clear communication among stakeholders and with the project team is essential for everyone to achieve their goals and for the project to be successful. Whenever communication breakdowns occur, the project can be delayed or the team may fail to get what they need. Without intentional communication, stakeholders may unintentionally work against the project’s success.
Stakeholders resistant to share information
Sometimes, stakeholders who are very important to a project’s success don’t share all the information the project team needs from them or aren’t providing data in a timely manner. Stakeholders may intentionally try to disrupt the project or may unintentionally do so – a busy stakeholder may habitually forget to email the figures you need every week or miss important project meetings.
How to combat these issues
By approaching stakeholder management carefully and thoughtfully, you can analyze your stakeholders’ influence on your project and create a communication plan to help prevent stakeholder challenges.
Just as project managers must carefully analyze resources and project details, stakeholder analysis can provide valuable insight and direction. Throughout the project, taking the time to thoughtfully consider how stakeholders impact your progress can help you respond appropriately.
Stakeholder analysis helps you determine how to manage expectations, direct stakeholder influence towards your project goals, and provide the information and updates your stakeholders are looking for from your team. Use our stakeholder map template to help you organize your research.
First, before you can effectively analyze your stakeholders, you’ll need to identify them. You can begin by listing every stakeholder you can think of, then adding extra individuals and groups as needed.
Your stakeholder list should include all people who are impacted by your project, have power or influence over your work, or have some interest in your success.
From there, you can prioritize your list of stakeholders by impact, interest, and power. For example:
Key stakeholders: This first group has a great degree of influence and power over the project. Executive leadership at your organization often fits in this category.
Primary stakeholders: Your primary stakeholders are directly impacted by the project. This may include internal or external customers, team members, and departments that are expected to benefit from the end results of your project.
Secondary stakeholders: Those in a supportive role, indirectly affected, or with a more minor interest in your project are your secondary stakeholders.
In these groups, stakeholders may all have different motives, reasons for championing your project, and plans for how they’ll respond to your progress. Since every stakeholder is different, how you go about managing them should be different, too.