Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder Management is so often overlooked.

And then someone unexpected throws a spanner in the works. Too bad – and you could have foreseen it.

Based on your understanding of those who are impacted by your activities, Stakeholder Management takes the sweat out of surprises.

It’s a little like office politics – a bit of a pain, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it can be very much on your side!

And then there are those who didn’t seem to be like stakeholders and at the last minute, when time is almost up, show up and start wanting to know more!

“Some stakeholders are more important than others. Each one needs to be handled in the way that’s most appealing for him, which can be as simple as adapting meeting styles and communications methods. With discipline and a good methodology, it’s not so difficult.”

David Foote – Foote Partners LLC

So, a little time with Stakeholder Management and you will have a whole load more folks rooting for you. As we found in Leveraging Customer Relationships, there can be more shouting for you, your business and your organisation than you might think possible. So let’s leverage all we can!

Top Ten Things About Stakeholder Management

Think about everyone involved in your activities. Easy? Of course. But what gets more challenging is all the ‘outsiders’ who may be impacted by the activity and who might have an interest. This is why Stakeholder Management is so important.

The best at Stakeholder Management

  1. See the Big Picture
    They have a broad and creative view on just who might be involved and why.
  2. Measure the Impact
    One-by-one, they are able to spot just who are the movers and shakers. Who could be assets and who could be adversaries.
  3. Lobby Well
    This is where great networking and communication skills come into their own. Those with the best Stakeholder Management skills work on those who can make a difference. Through keeping them well informed, they create a well of support.
  4. Spread the Load
    And they involve others in their team too – by sharing the efforts to communicate with those who are important, they build a broad base of links which can be utilised profitably. The team ‘buy in’.
  5. And There’s More
    By using the team in the first place a better picture of those with possible interests can be built. And it’s great for team-building too!.
  6. Get Creative
    Those with great Stakeholder Management skills build trust and rapport easily – and by doing this they can find the ‘hot button’ of their key stakeholders quickly and effectively.
  7. Efficiency
    They are able to spot where to spend their time most effectively. Some stakeholders will be more important – more potentially damaging if their support were to fail. Time gets spent appropriately – and those who are already supporters are not forgotten!
  8. Update Regularly
    It’s about keeping the eye on the ball. By making sure that a frequent check is made on the state of these vital relationships, it is a lot less likely that things can go wrong – balls do not get dropped!
  9. Give Credit
    By making sure that those who are on-side with the business; the project; the initiative, get credit as the end draws near, longer-term relationships and indeed future advocates are created.
  10. Learn
    Those best at Stakeholder Management go back and look at the learnings, incorporating them into the next round!

Ten Ways to be a Better at Stakeholder Management

  1. Realise It!
    There is a big opportunity to make whatever you do successful. Tell those who need to know and don’t miss anyone important.
  2. Involve Your People
    Make this a team effort. Your people will enjoy the input and they will probably have a far deeper understanding of the consequences of what you are doing than you alone. This is not a one person effort.
  3. Check the Risk
    Using a simple grid, checkout who has the Impact and who can Influence most. Those with ‘high’ on both are your biggest targets to work with.
  4. Don’t Assume
    You really need to check what the score is for everyone – ‘assumptions’ tend to go wrong. So watch out for anyone who you ‘believe’ is a given. Check it out.
  5. Ponder a Little
    OK – so don’t assume, but do try to get into the head of every Stakeholder. What’s important to them? What are the current pressures? How can you help? Come at them from their angle as well as yours.
  6. Make Time
    You need to talk to influential people – explain what you are doing that impacts on them. Making the time; honouring them with their ‘need to know’ smoothes the path. Invest here – it’s worth it.
  7. Adapt
    Create personal behaviour styles which match your stakeholder and you will stand a greater chance of getting them onboard. Meet them more than half-way.
  8. Do More
    Watch out for things that you can do to maximise the relationships – checkout mutual acquaintances who may be able to help them; seek resources to help fix their problems. Be helpful – go the extra mile for them – it will be an worthwhile investment.
  9. Keep in Touch
    With your stakeholders and your own team. This is a moving target, attitudes change, so you need to be alert. Keeping in touch with everyone will minimise surprises. Good, focused, consistent communication is the key to success here.
  10. Be Honest
    With yourself. This will help you learn for the future and redress issues as they arise with any of your stakeholders. If problems are arising – get them sorted fast and step over your sensitivities. This could save your venture!

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Choose a project you’re currently working on – keep it simple to start with.
  • Identify everyone who might have an interest in it. Then go ask other people – even those well away from the project. Get creative here! Checkout some of the tools from the resources below. Use the Impact and Influence model above.
  • Work with your team on the final list – think through what those individuals might see in your project, good and bad.
  • Consider, within your team, all those who might want to strike up relationships with some of the people involved – to be your link to stakeholders in your project.
  • Learn as you go – this is a valuable lesson for all areas of your business.

There are no simple books on this subject – despite it being relatively simple in day-to-day activities! (maybe I should write one :-)). Let me know of any easy ones if you find any!