Marketers and business leaders are constantly being pulled in multiple directions and are often working to multiple priorities. Sometimes it feels like everyone and their dog has an interest in what you are doing, and at any moment someone will pop up with a ‘drive-by’ requirement or concern for immediate attention. It can throw a monkey wrench in that perfectly planned project.
The increasing number of communication channels, more savvy customers and advancing technologies means that business leaders and marketers must work extra hard to churn out targeted messages that positively engage and satisfy a broad set of stakeholders.
If not carefully managed, disgruntled stakeholders can become problematic as they attempt to have their priorities addressed first which can lead to fire fighting the potential for conflict, poor responsiveness and dis-organised chaos.
9 Tips to Better Stakeholder Management
Do a good stakeholder analysis
There are many different internal, external and connected stakeholders or stakeholder groups connected with your project all with different resources, influence and expectations. The common problems with stakeholder management typically lie somewhere between insufficient preparation, planning and foresight.
- Identify and analyse your stakeholders using How to do a Stakeholder Analysis
- Use your Power / Interest grid as a snapshot picture of your priority stakeholder(s) interests, issues and current to future status towards your project / organization
- Use a red, amber green system and arrows to highlight the current status and shifts needed as a result of your project
Plan your approach to stakeholder management
The resources that you allocate to stakeholder management should be directly proportionate to the size and difficulty of your projects and goals, the time you can make available for communication, and the amount of help that you may need.
Tip: Consider you/ your teams strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to inform your approach
What do you want from each stakeholder?
- The desired support – high, medium, low
- The desired project role (if any)
- The desired actions desired (if any)
Tip: Know and understand your strategic goals and how they advance the business objectives to help prioritize stakeholders based on the highest overall business return
There are just not enough hours in the day or money in the bank to service and communicate with everybody and in truth not everyone will advance the pursuit of our goals and objectives. Decide who to focus on and take a monitoring and/or defend approach to the others on a needs must basis.
Tip: Select primary targets and a second group (optional) to nurture with ‘fill-in’ resources when possible
Draft the key messages to communicate effectively and efficiently
Aligning values, incentives and motivations around your project/ organization requires both effective communication and an active dialogue.On the one hand we need to creatively devise ‘on brand’ key messages for mutual benefit. On the other hand we need to go to war to grab their attention via a combination of ‘best fit’ communication channels (as determined by you), factoring in the level and intensity of communications, actions needed and desired outcomes for each.
- Create and share a communications matrix for a clear and concise snapshot update throughout the project term
|Who to reach||Messages||Best Channels||Desired outcomes||Budget|
- Personalized marketing tactics are proving highly effective
- Internally – align projects with stakeholder’s goals and objectives both vertically and horizontally. Include internal stakeholders early on is the project process as co-developers to aid ‘buy in’
Action with small steps
Tip: It is far better to implement your approach with shorter action, goals and review cycles based around 2-way communications and near–time insights. This will enhance your stakeholder relationships based upon frequent and effective dialogue with the key players.
There are two main principles here. First, we cannot communicate to others something which we do not know about. Secondly, a lack of open communication leaves the door too far ajar for unfavorable assumptions. Both have the potential to undermine your credibility and efforts.
- Shape up internally to share news, intelligence and near/ real-time performance updates about the project / organization. The good news is that it is increasingly possible with various communication and analytical technologies
- Manage stakeholder expectations early doors with clear expectations about communication, timelines, and budget to help them understand your environment and how best to work together. This will build understanding, your credibility and reliability.
- It is inevitable that new priorities and work requests will emerge so only allocate up to 70% of your time to planned work to leave time for flexibility
Automate and streamline wherever possible
Tip: Define uniform processes and templates in order to streamline communications between different stakeholders.
How will you know when you have achieved your goals and objectives
It is a relationship best served and understood by engaging in two-way communications underpinned with appropriate listening methods and a well devised set of KPI’s and metrics that feed your goals and objectives.
- Use the 80:20 listening rule – it’s no longer what we say it is… it’s what they think and feel it is
- Keep the end game at the forefront of your minds and action. Devise and report on KPI’s and metrics that advance the strategic and business objectives. Keep activity metrics at the performance improvement level
- Track effectiveness and efficiency separately to help optimization
Following these steps will help reduce the impact of stakeholder ‘drive-by’ concerns or requirements that can negatively disrupt project performance and will provide a clear view of the progress being made. The added visibility in particular will also encourage discussions about how implementing any new deliverables will affect outcomes, deadlines, and resources.
About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaigns and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn