Stakeholder engagement strategies project managers must not ignore

7 project critical tactics for project management success

All projects have stakeholders – people who are impacted by the project. These may be individuals, teams, departments, customers, suppliers, and so on. They may be internal and external. They may be supportive of the project, or resistant to it.

Once you identify your project stakeholders, you should put in place a plan to engage them in the project. Remember, each stakeholder will have their own views and opinions of the project plan, and each will have different power to influence the project.

Here are seven strategies that effective project managers employ to engage project stakeholders.

1.      Get your project stakeholders together

Projects are likely to have many stakeholders. Each has different needs, and may be highly focused on these needs without regard to the needs of others. It is imperative that collective goals are identified and prioritised.

Creating an environment in which the project stakeholders get together, to discuss their wishes and concerns, will aid understanding and identify conflicts early. Unless you know the nature of these conflicts, how can you resolve them?

2.      Listen first, second, and third

It is imperative that project managers are good listeners. People want their views to be heard and understood. Only by deep listening can you achieve this. You will need to ask questions to gain the depth of understanding you need to gain insight to perspectives.

3.      Create trust

It is not enough to listen only. You must then act upon the information you have discovered. Create progress plans and do what you say you will.

4.      Engage your stakeholders in project planning

The most effective project managers engage project stakeholders in the planning of projects. They ask them to help provide structure to the project plan, breaking the project into milestones, identifying key tasks and project deliverables.

Stakeholders may also become involved in providing estimates. This level of engagement will help stakeholders see the uncertainty of estimates, and better engage them in managing milestones through the project lifecycle. It decreases the potential for destabilising shocks and surprises.

5.      Management of expectations

All stakeholders will have their own expectations and definitions of success. As a project manager, it is your job to manage these. This is likely to require diplomacy and negotiating skills.

6.      Communicate constantly with clarity

It is essential to have an effective project communication plan and to communicate effectively. You will need to understand your stakeholders to optimise communication channels and answer:

  • Who needs to know what, and why?
  • When does each stakeholder needs to be communicated with?
  • What is each stakeholder’s preferred method of communication?

Keeping these communication channels open is crucial to your success. Only through effective communication can you inform and remain informed.

7.      Be appreciative

Make sure that you respond to communication in a courteous and timely manner. Say ‘thank you’ for the help and support you receive from your stakeholders. ‘Thank you’ – two small words that have an enormous positive effect in all project work.

Strategize to exert your influence

Some stakeholders have huge influence over projects. For positive outcomes, a project manager must exert his or her influence over project stakeholders. Engagement of stakeholders is project critical. These seven engagement strategies will help to engage even the most resistant stakeholder.

To discover how effective project management could ensure your projects are delivered successfully, contact Your Project Manager today:

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