Project managers understand the importance of nurturing a stakeholder relationship – and know that poor stakeholder management can cause an initiative to fail.
Establishing open communication with key stakeholders, customers and suppliers is essential to set a project up for success right from the start. Stakeholders need to be consulted adequately and have their interests, issues and concerns considered and resolved. As well, commitments made to them must be tracked, monitored and fulfilled.
Here’s how to start off on the right foot to establish a relationship based on honesty and trust, and an ability to reach compromises when needed.
- Identify stakeholders: Start by identifying who the key stakeholders are. It’s not always the top person in an organization – recognize the importance of communicating with many levels of contributors, which is essential to really understand issues. Determine stakeholder groups and understand their needs and the roles they play. For example, there are those who simply need to be kept informed of progress, and those who will directly influence project outcomes.
- Identify desired outcomes: Structure exchanges with stakeholders to fit both their needs and those of your program. It’s important to have a clear picture of what you need to accomplish before you start but also have the ability to adjust expectations when the need for modification arises.
- Share information openly with stakeholders: Establish trust by being transparaent about the status of your initiatives. Good communication is essential in order to effectively share your vision with those involved in your project. Provide a big picture view and include timelines and key milestones.
- Listen openly to participants: This is one of the most important communication skills. Listen to the feedback you are receiving and make sure you understand the perspectives, suggestions and concerns of contributors. If stakeholders feel they are being heard, it will go a long way towards establishing trust.
- Provide options to resolve issues: Rather than forcing a single solution to an issue, seek to establish compromise or multiple positive outcomes. Providing participants with mutually beneficial choices is a powerful strategy.
- Make realistic promises and keep them: Over-promising and under-delivering is a sure way to set your project up for failure. If you need to make changes mid-stream, communicate openly and clearly about the reasons why. Deliver on your promises.
With StakeTracker you can easily record, document, track and report on all your interactions and communications with stakeholders. We can help your organization stay on top of your projects by centrally managing all your communications and tracking the impact your initiatives have on the communities in which you operate.