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Effective stakeholder management plays a vital role in the execution of any project or business endeavor. In this article, we will delve into the concept of stakeholder management, highlighting its significance, warning signs that indicate potential challenges in stakeholder management, and four strategies for effectively handling difficult stakeholders.

What is the significance of stakeholder management?

Stakeholder management encompasses a systematic approach to identifying individuals or groups who have a vested interest in a project or business initiative. It involves understanding their expectations and potential impacts, as well as strategically managing their involvement and communication.

As previously mentioned, stakeholders can include customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and members of the community. The first step in stakeholder management is identifying those who will be affected by the project. Effectively managing stakeholders’ needs and expectations is crucial for project success. Therefore, investing time in identifying, prioritizing, and assessing project stakeholders is essential for creating a robust stakeholder management plan. This ensures alignment between your goals and those of your stakeholders, facilitating the smooth progress of the project.

stakeholder management
stakeholder management

Whose responsibility is it to manage stakeholders in a project?

Given the numerous individuals and teams involved in a project’s success, you may wonder who is responsible for stakeholder management. Typically, this responsibility falls on the project manager.

Project managers are tasked with providing leadership and guidance, acting as the intermediary between stakeholders’ expectations and the project management firm’s ability to meet them. While aligning stakeholders’ interests is the objective, it is not always achievable.

Research conducted by Geneca indicates that only 23% of stakeholders and project managers are in agreement when a project is completed.

A competent project manager collaborates closely with the team to accomplish tasks and also practices effective stakeholder management to establish rapport with senior leadership.

Whose responsibility is it to manage stakeholders in a project
Whose responsibility is it to manage stakeholders in a project

Why is stakeholder management important?

If we envision a project as an engine, stakeholder management serves as the oil that keeps the wheels turning. Without someone capable of managing the diverse personalities, expectations, and communication styles of stakeholders, a project can encounter significant disruptions. A skilled stakeholder manager can navigate situations that may derail or delay projects throughout their life cycles, making necessary adjustments to ensure continued success.

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Stakeholder management holds considerable importance for various reasons. Firstly, it fosters clear communication between the project team and stakeholders. Proper stakeholder management involves regular updates on project progress, discussions about any obstacles or changes that arise, and managing expectations and misunderstandings regarding timelines or expectations. This contributes to cultivating positive stakeholder relationships.

Effective stakeholder management also enhances decision-making by gaining a clearer understanding of stakeholders’ interests, leading to more effective project execution strategies. It can also increase stakeholder engagement by making them feel heard and valued, encouraging stakeholders who may not otherwise take ownership of their role in the project. Those involved in stakeholder management often find that this generates more positive sentiments towards the project as a whole.

For many project managers, stakeholder management extends beyond a single project. Building long-term relationships with stakeholders is an additional benefit that can yield fruitful outcomes in the future.

Four Strategies for Managing Difficult Stakeholders

Effectively managing difficult stakeholders is a crucial aspect of stakeholder management, and there are several strategies you can utilize to handle stakeholders who are having a negative impact on a project.

However, it is essential to remember that stakeholders also have a vested interest in the project’s success. Their expressions of this desire may vary throughout the project. One day they may be supportive, while the next they may argue if things don’t go their way. It’s important to understand that they are not “switching sides” – their ultimate goal is project success. It’s not a battle between you and them.

Don’t take resistance personally and keep in mind that business is business. Burning bridges can be detrimental to your career advancement. You cannot simply dismiss difficult stakeholders; instead, you must find a way to work with them or find alternative solutions while defusing the situation. One effective method of establishing a solid foundation for working with stakeholders is to invest in efficient work management software. Such software, like Wrike, enhances visibility and transparency, providing a comprehensive view of potential obstacles.

Identify and Observe Them Closely

The initial step is to identify your stakeholders and understand what motivates them. Stakeholders encompass individuals or groups who are impacted by your work, possess influence or power over it, or have a vested interest in its success. Here are some common examples of stakeholder categories:

  1. Primary Stakeholders: These individuals are directly affected by the work and are usually the beneficiaries, including customers.
  2. Secondary Stakeholders: These individuals are indirectly affected by the work and include teams supporting the project and those impacted by its outcome.
  3. Key Stakeholders: This group holds significant influence over the work and has a vested interest in its success. It comprises executives and other influential figures.
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Each group has distinct interests, objectives, and agendas, often with competing priorities. Identifying and prioritizing their influence and interest is crucial to keep projects on track and avoid being pulled in multiple directions. Not all stakeholders hold the same level of importance, so recognizing those who have the most sway and can be your strongest advocates will save you a great deal of stress.

Listen attentively to their words

Don’t cut off communication channels simply because you dislike what you hear. Make an effort to understand where difficult stakeholders are coming from and try to empathize with their perspectives and goals.

Strive to comprehend their point of view. If their statements are frustrating, ask yourself: Do their needs align with the objectives of your project? Do they simply desire things to be done differently? Seek common ground.

Above all, people want to feel understood and valued for their opinions. Here are a few ways to manage stakeholders and demonstrate their importance:

– Assign people to project roles that align with their interests and skills.

– Always treat individuals with respect, even during tense moments.

– Offer praise frequently, particularly when you observe positive behavior.

– Provide training and coaching to all involved parties.

– Give people opportunities to share their insights and opinions within the group and contribute to decision-making.

Listen attentively to their words
Listen attentively to their words

Arrange one-on-one meetings

Schedule dedicated time to meet with difficult stakeholders individually. By excluding other stakeholders from the room, you alleviate pressure and help them feel more at ease. This creates a conducive environment for clear and calm conversations.

Utilize this time to explore their viewpoints and preferred solutions. However, avoid directly asking why they dislike your plan. Instead, pose open-ended questions about their opinions and their perception of the project’s progress.

Conducting individual meetings with stakeholders also prevents their negative opinions from influencing others involved in the project. When feedback crosses the line from constructive to pure negativity, it is best to isolate the stakeholder and address the situation privately.

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Arrange one-on-one meetings
Arrange one-on-one meetings

Determine their underlying motivation

What is causing the sudden resistance from your stakeholders? Are they concerned about exceeding the budget? Anxious that the project is not aligning with their vision? Are they answerable to a board of directors who may have doubts?

Effectively managing stakeholders involves addressing the motivations behind their resistance. This will help identify compromises, create win-win solutions, and successfully complete the project.

Ask yourself the following questions to uncover their motivations:

– What are their most critical business needs?

– What is the most effective way to communicate with them?

– What information or details do they want or require?

– Do they fully understand your work, or do they need additional explanation?

– Who influences them?

– Whom do they influence?

– What are their responsibilities?

– To whom do they report?

While detective work can take you part of the way, don’t hesitate to ask these questions directly to your stakeholders. Keep the lines of communication open to anticipate any resistance and make necessary adjustments.

Asia Pacific Projects – Your trusted partner for comprehensive project management services.

At Asia Pacific Projects, we understand the challenges that come with managing stakeholders in a project and the importance of effective stakeholder management for project success. That’s why we have developed proven strategies and expertise to navigate the complexities of stakeholder management.

Our project management services encompass every stage of the project lifecycle, from initiation to completion. We work closely with project managers, teams, and stakeholders to align expectations, foster clear communication, and ensure project objectives are met. By employing effective stakeholder management techniques, we help prevent roadblocks and maintain project momentum.

At Asia Pacific Projects, we are committed to delivering exceptional project management services tailored to your specific needs. Our experienced team of professionals combines technical expertise with strong stakeholder management skills to ensure successful project outcomes. We understand the value of effective stakeholder engagement and strive to build long-term relationships with all project stakeholders.

Whether you’re facing challenging stakeholders or seeking comprehensive project management solutions, Asia Pacific Projects is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how our project management services can drive your project success.

Please send information or requests that you need to consult for Asia Pacific Projects via:

NGUYEN THI HIEU | Local Relations

Mobile phone: +84 918 331 489


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