I ran a survey about stakeholder management (thanks, by the way, if you were one of the people who filled it out) and the results surprised me. I have done a bit of analysis on the results and I wanted to share what I know so far with you.
The biggest reason we do stakeholder engagement activities on projects is because they help us get the resources we need for the project.
But what stops us from engaging stakeholders the way we would want to, if we had all the time in the world, and all the resources?
Blockers to effective stakeholder engagement
The main blockers to engaging stakeholders successfully are, according to the survey results:
- Not having enough time (33%)
- Not having management support (28%)
- Not having the right templates (18%)
- Not knowing what to do (15%)
A further 6% of respondents had other reasons for struggling to work with stakeholders the way they knew they could.
The chart below shows how these results break down.
Knowing what to do and how to do it is crucial
One in three people feel like they can’t manage their stakeholder relationships because they don’t know what to do or they don’t have the templates to help them.
I know what that’s like. I work as a project manager, I run my own business around the edges of that, and I have a young family. Time, and the energy to create documents from scratch when no one much seems to care, are things I don’t have.
I have had my ups and downs with stakeholder engagement. For a start, when I began managing projects it was all about ‘managing’ stakeholders. It took me a long time to work that you can’t manage people into being supportive about your project. It just doesn’t work.
They have to want you to be successful, which is where securing management support comes in.
Successful stakeholder engagement means understanding what people want out of the project, how they feel about it, how that changes over time. And it requires regular check ins and planning.
Learn new ways of working with stakeholders
Over time, I’ve developed ways to work with my stakeholders that doesn’t feel cheesy or forced and that works for me. One of the first things I do on any new project is create my plan of action for uncovering stakeholders and understanding their motivations.
After all, it’s people who get projects done (or stopped). Not processes or documents.
Having said that, processes and documents can really help! Especially if you are pressed for time or don’t know exactly where to start.
Stakeholder engagement made easy
If you’re one of the 33% who don’t know what to do or don’t have the templates to do it, then I have a special announcement for you.
Starting 21 February 2023, I’m teaching a stakeholder engagement masterclass. It runs over 3 evenings (UK time) and it covers everything from the basics of how to work out who your stakeholders are to advanced ways of prioritizing your time so everyone get the right amount of attention.
And it answers the difficult questions: what does engaging others actually look like? What do you do to engage them?
The training, and the associated templates you can download to turn your new knowledge into practical action back at the workplace, will help you:
- Identify who needs to be involved in your project.
- Work out how they are going to react to your project.
- Create an engagement plan to ensure that you can shift the behavior or attitudes of any stakeholders who appear negative, and ensure that the team maintains the positive outlook of any stakeholders who are supportive.
- Look professional and prepared when working with stakeholders.
- Review how your engagement activities are going so you can switch out your strategies if you need to.
If you’ve ever felt like there has to be a better, faster way to plan your stakeholder engagement then you won’t want to miss this!