Effective Stakeholder Management

Effective Stakeholder Management

by Bernhard Bals

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Your project is never isolated. You can influence your environment, and your environment does influence you. Knowing your environment and your stakeholders will give you an advantage.

Take the initiative and plan how you can actively influence your environment rather than being influenced.

In less than 10 minutes you will know the steps I take to set up an effective stakeholder management.

What Is Stakeholder Management?

What Are Stakeholders?

Neither your project nor your business are isolated. There are external interfaces. Those could be laws, regulations, customers, investors. Behind all these interfaces there are people. People whose interests may be at stake. They are your stakeholders.

Good Relations: Stakeholder Management

The attitude of your stakeholders towards your project may be positive, neutral or negative. Stakeholders with positive attitude can help you to promote your project. You can improve the negative attitude of some stakeholders.

Stakeholder management is your way to deal with these attitudes. It is an important step in project management. Effective stakeholder management aims on beneficial relations with people who are affected by your project.

Effective Stakeholder Management In 10 Minutes

Step 1: Identify Your Environment

Who are your Stakeholders? The first step towards an effective stakeholder management is to find out who and what influences your project. The following matrix will help you with this step:

Stakeholder Portfolio
  • Who Influences Your Project?

These are actual people, whose interests are affected by your project. They can be within your organization (internal) or outside (external).

To obtain a comprehensive list of those stakeholders, take your time. If available, brainstorm together with your project team.

  • What Influences Your Project?

There are factors, that can be constraints to your projects. These factors can be internal or external.

Effective stakeholder management is only possible with people. For each factor there is a point of contact. This is the person that can affect its impact. For company procedures for example, this can be the quality manager.

Take your time to find the people behind the constraints. They are your stakeholders, too. Investigate how to contact them.

Step 2: Map Your Environment

The key to effective stakeholder management is setting priorities. But how? Is it more important to influence stakeholders with negative attitude? What if they have lots of power, too? Do they want to enforce their power?

  • What Is Their Attitude?

The attitude of your stakeholders indicates how supportive a stakeholder will be. Some stakeholders could be destructive and fight you. It is good to be aware of that.

  • What Power Do They Have?

Your most supportive stakeholder will not be able to help you, if he does not have sufficient power. A powerful stakeholder who is only slightly negative towards your project, can be very dangerous.

  • How Involved Are They?

A powerful stakeholder will not generate much impact if he does not care. A weak opponent can be very troublesome if he is strongly involved.

The Stakeholder Matrix

The stakeholder matrix is a tool to map stakeholders. It supports effective stakeholder management. There are different metrics for stakeholder matrices. I prefer a matrix which maps power over involvement.

Stakeholder Matrix

Rank your stakeholders concerning their power. Who is most powerful? Whose influence is least? Rank your stakeholders regarding their involvement. Who is most affected by your project? Who does not care? Spread your stakeholders over the matrix.

In this matrix there are four fields. Each field characterizes stakeholders according to their levels of involvement and power. It gives a recommendation how to handle each character. Do not forget the attitude of each stakeholder. A key player could be a threat. But he could also be a valuable promoter for your project.

When I map stakeholders, I use green color for positive attitude, red color for negative attitude and grey color for neutral attitude.

Step 3: Understand Your Environment

Now you know who can influence your project. And you know the importance of each stakeholder. On the way to effective stakeholder management you need to understand your stakeholders:

  • What Are Their Expectations?

Think about what benefits your stakeholders can take out of your project. Even the stakeholder with the most negative attitude can take some benefits. The perspective of meeting the expectations of your stakeholders will improve the attitude of your stakeholders towards your project.

  • What Are Their Concerns?

Consider why a stakeholder could have a negative attitude towards your project. They are concerned. Find our about what. If you can clear out their concerns, their attitude towards the project will become better.

  • What Impact Can You Expect?

You have identified some factors that may influence your project. Think about how they could affect you. If you know the challenge, you are able to find solutions.

Step 4: Manage Your Environment

You gathered all the information you need for effective stakeholder management. A possible way to keep that data is a table like this:

Stakeholder Management Table

With this information and with the stakeholder matrix you can derive specific and effective measures for each stakeholder and for the factors a stakeholder represents:

  • raise expectations
  • clear out concerns
  • pursue win-win solutions
  • involve “key players”
  • inform potential “trouble makers” and “moderators”
  • monitor the “spectators”
  • communicate

Do not forget to monitor the effectiveness of your actions. Regularly review your stakeholder management data.

How to Continue

Congratulations. This is all it takes to perform effective stakeholder management. Was this information useful?

If you want to give some feedback please us the comment form. Also do not hesitate to contact me.

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