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Steve Pulman

Are your stakeholders engaged?

Posted in by on March 12, 2015 and has no comments yet

Who are your stakeholders?

Beyond the project team, the department and the organisation, stakeholders can be anyone affecting or affected by the project in any way.

Example:

In a building project, your stakeholders could include raw materials suppliers, local council, neighbours, construction workers, unions, environmental activists….

What motivates your stakeholder?

Once you know who your stakeholders are (and the list might keep growing as the project progresses) you need to identify what motivates them – and the likelihood is that this will differ between each stakeholder group, and even each individual. It’s important to understand what motivates your stakeholders for the project to succeed so you can have a chance at successfully engaging them.

For example, an executive level project sponsor might be tying their next big promotion to the success of this project while the junior software developers are eager to prove themselves and gain new skills in a new piece of software.

For larger projects with multiple and complex stakeholder hierarchies, it’s often a good idea for the project manager to complete a stakeholder engagement matrix so you can try and balance everyone’s agendas.

What does engagement look like?

This will vary from project to project and between different project managers and organisations. There is no single way to engage your stakeholders and even within the same project, various engagement tactics might be needed. Remember, every stakeholder has different expectations for the project so you will probably need to adapt your engagement method accordingly.

Some suggested engagement ideas include:

  • Traditional email – yes it still works as an effective engagement and communication method! Don’t overdo it, but if one of your stakeholders travels a lot and isn’t always around for informal catch ups, sending a weekly summary of successes, issues and results can keep them in the loop.
  • Show your face – it doesn’t have to be formal meetings with an agenda, but make it known that you are available at certain times of the day / week for stakeholders to drop in and ask you questions about the project or raise any concerns they might have.
  • Get to know the communications team – whether in house or as an external consultant, get the communications team on side early on. They can help you to identify and develop creative communications campaigns for the project to engage people at all levels – this could include posters to create awareness, newsletter updates, town halls, teaser campaigns etc.
  • Share as much as you can (including the problems and failures) – obviously this depends on the nature of the project you are working on and the client/organisational culture, but sharing when things don’t go to plan (as well as when they do) can also sometimes create engagement – stakeholders might be able to offer solutions or workarounds and a great sense of team spirit can be achieved.
  • Communicate and celebrate milestones – reminding stakeholders of the purpose and progress of the project can be a great way to maintain their engagement, particularly for longer-term projects. It also helps to maintain momentum for the project and helps to drive adoption throughout the organisation.
  • Ask for feedback and input – most people love to have their say so involve stakeholders throughout the project. When people feel that they have had an input to something, they are more likely to remain engaged, and influence others to be positive about the change.

How’s your project stakeholder engagement looking? Are you struggling to keep people on side while meeting business expectations? Talk to the Asq team about how we can help you engage your stakeholders today – let’s chat over coffee.

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