stakeholder

How to engage Stakeholders

“Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but rather because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged”

 

N

ow that we have completed the identification and analysis of all our stakeholders (read here about how-to) it is time to develop our stakeholder engagement strategy.
 

Stakeholder Engagement (Planning and Management)

The PMBOK gives this definition to the above activity:

“Manage Stakeholder Engagement is the process of communicating and working with stakeholders to meet their needs/expectations, address issues as they occur, and foster appropriate stakeholder engagement in project activities throughout the project life cycle. The key benefit of this process is that it allows the project manager to increase support and minimize resistance from stakeholders, significantly increasing the chances to achieve project success.”

Let’s identify the “win/win” strategy

We all know that a win-win strategy, in a conflict resolution, is a process that aims to accommodate all disputants; of course, in the beginning there wouldn’t be a conflict to solve and the identified strategies should help us to better manage relations among all the actors.

Let’s start documenting the results of our analysis in a spreadsheet table which lists each stakeholder or group and their place on the interest/influence matrix. Let’s add two columns and use one to describe their goals and the other to identify win/win strategies for engaging with them.

Our final “Stakeholder Engagement Plan” table should look something like this:

Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Stakeholder Engagement Plan

These two areas will require some effort, but it is well worth the time as it will help us to ensure that our stakeholder engagement strategy is focused and effective.
 

Stakeholder Engagement: Develop the communication and reporting plan

Now that we know who our stakeholders are and what they want, it’s time for us to put the results of our hard work into action, developing the effective stakeholder engagement plan.

Using the information gathered in the previous steps, let’s write a communication and reporting plan that documents:

  • The information requirements;
  • Frequency of communication;
  • Communication provider;
  • Channel of communication for each stakeholder.

Our final deliverable should look something like this:

Communication and Reporting Plan

Communication and Reporting Plan

We shouldn’t forget to make use of technology to engage our stakeholders in a more effective way; some examples could be webinars, video conferencing, internet, intranet, and so on.

Let’s remember that, to get our message across, we may need to use more than one channel. Some people won’t read emails that are longer than two paragraphs, but they just might listen to a podcast or login to a webinar.

Here some examples of alternative channels we could use to get our message across


 

Focus Groups

Focus Group

Focus Group

Focus groups can provide us with the quality information that we need and ensure that the key people feel that they have been involved and listened to. Even our difficult stakeholders have to be involved in these groups because if we facilitated these meetings well, we could stand a good chance of turning them into project champions or, at least, we could be better able to keep an eye on them.
 

Surveys

Survey

Survey

Surveys are a useful way of gathering feedback from a large number of people. They can be delivered via the web (let’s try google docs for example. I use it and it’s fantastic).
Let’s make sure we design our survey to ask both open and closed questions and use a combination of scoring e.g. 1 – 6 and free text areas to draw out detailed feedback.
 

Newsletter

Newsletter

Newsletter

Emails, newsletters and leaflets reach a wide audience. They can raise the profile of our project and give us an opportunity to give evidence of our successes. We have to take into account the time we have available to apply a correct frequency of communications; let’s keep in mind that some people may not read our letter.
 

Websites and podcasts

Podcast

Podcast

It’s a good idea to create, for any project, a freely accessible shared area where news, information, dates and key documents can be stored. A website or webpage is ideal as we can use it to communicate with all of our stakeholders – more influential stakeholders can be given access to privileged areas to complete surveys or attend online focus groups. Like a newsletter we can showcase our success, but in addition stakeholders can access our website any time. They can ‘pull’ information from our site when they need it rather than we having to ‘push’ it out to them.

We could also consider using podcasts, keeping a blog or setting up a stakeholder forum.
 

Combining and targeting these approaches

Each of these approaches has pro and cons when it comes to engaging with our stakeholders. We should combine these approaches and use a channel that is appropriate to the interest and influence of our stakeholder audience.
 

I’m an enthusiastic and highly motivated PMP and Prince2 (Foundation) Senior Program Manager with 16+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. I often work in highly pressurized and challenging environments, managing a large-scale software development program up to an order value of €6M. I’m extremely professional in approach and behaviour, adaptable to change, very meticulous, collaborative, energetic, resilient, innovative, proactive and pragmatic. I’m passionate about process improvement, technology innovation, knowledge sharing techniques and how businesses can capitalize on social media integration. My greatest strength is helping to focus my organization’s efforts on the activities necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives in order to consistently meet both the customer’s and business’ needs; on time and under budget.

 
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