Stakeholders bring risk to a project. The quicker you determine whether it is positive or negative, the faster you can document and plan for the risk.
And, their ideas, issues and inquiries matter. Don’t miss out on this valuable data.
Do you know who your stakeholders are? You should if you want the project to be a success. Remember, stakeholders include employees, customers and others.
Being proactive by creating a thoughtful and responsible plan to build stakeholder engagement takes time and resources. Successful organizations START with these five steps:
1. Begin with the end in mind
Listed as Habit 2 in visionary author Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” it’s an excellent launching pad beyond personal leadership. Determine in advance how you want the stakeholder relationship to conclude. Set that intention in writing and ensure key stakeholders understand your end game.
2. Learn your key stakeholders’ communication preferences
Do they prefer regular updates via text messages? Perhaps they want face-to-face meetings or telephone calls? Or, none of the above. Once you know the answers, upload this research into your stakeholder plan to ensure you and your team follow through.
Be sure to learn how often stakeholders expect updates about the project or changes and add that data to your plan. Then follow the plan.
3. Discover your stakeholders’ expectations
What motivations are driving your stakeholders? Do you know their end games?
When you have the answers to these and other questions, you will be on your way toward a “relationship.”
4. Invite your key stakeholders to the project launch
Can you invite the stakeholders who are intensely interested or have high influence/high impact to a launch event or kickoff party? If so, it’s a great way to ensure agreement about the deliverables. It’s much smarter to get stakeholders’ input and feedback EARLY in the process than rather two days before the deadline.
Make the project launch inclusive by using the research you gathered earlier. These high-touch demonstrations show your stakeholders they are valued.
5. Prepare for change requests and have a plan to address them
Your stakeholders will suggest changes and how you handle them will be critical to the success of the relationship. Listening is essential.
Finally, as the saying goes, “People will support what they help create.” By being proactive in identifying and working with your stakeholders, together, you build mutual success!
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.