In any digital project, Stakeholder Engagement can often be the difference between project success or failure.
Identifying and acknowledging your Stakeholder relationships with your organisation is important as it offers those who will or could be affected by the project or outcomes, to have the opportunity to engage and raise their concerns and opinions. It also enables organisations to understand the relationship they have with their stakeholders and what they expect from you as well as providing transparency of your organisation’s shared vision. Therefore, understanding and managing your Stakeholder expectations, both internal and external, is essential to supporting Stakeholder engagement and positive outcomes.
Here are 5 simple steps to help you achieve positive stakeholder engagement and enable the learning of who and how you will engage with your Stakeholder groups, preventing you from wasting a considerable amount of time and effort later on.
1. Identify: Identifying your Stakeholders
- List everyone that may be affected by, has interest in or can influence your project and its outcomes.
- What your goals are for engaging your stakeholders
- Group your stakeholders according to their level of importance for your project
- How to influence each stakeholder according to all of the above to achieve the results you want.
- Map your stakeholders based on impact and interest. This will enable you to be more strategic and effectively communicate with them in the way that works best for them
2. Engage: Get to know your Stakeholders
- You should seek to understand your stakeholders, before you attempt to get them to understand you or your project
- Get to know your stakeholders, the sooner, the better
- Listen and understand their ideas and thoughts
- Lead with integrity and build trust
- Manage expectations, their perceptions and thoughts may not always be achievable or realistic and it is important to be clear and honest about this
- Influence their attitudes
3. Plan: Planning your Stakeholder Engagement
- Prioritise your time with your stakeholders and allocate your resources accordingly
- Identify what support you need and what skills others can bring
- Ensure a communications plan to engage with your stakeholders is in place.
- Your plan should include
- the approach taken to communicate and what messages will be provided
- how feedback will be managed, who will need to process and respond to the feedback
4. Communicate: Communicating with your Stakeholders about your project
- Good communication will result in valuable feedback and important insights from stakeholders
- Encourage feedback, continue to gain insight into the Stakeholders ideas and perceptions of the project, this will better enable you to influence them to achieve your goals
- Ensure that feedback is acknowledged and effectively managed
- Where appropriate, encourage Stakeholders to positively and proactively talk to each other to maximise the project priority for the organisation
- You may face resistance and this will need to be handled positively. Having powerful insights will enable this to be managed effectively and even remove the resistance
5. Review: Manage your Stakeholder Engagement
- Continuously monitor and review the success of your communication outcomes to ensure that you are meeting your objectives and engaging with the right stakeholders
- Regularly review your plan, the project evolves and so may your stakeholders. Their interests and needs may also change with time
- Review resources allocated to prevent any known risks from happening
- Invite further stakeholder feedback, Stakeholders’ perspectives can help uncover potential risks and take action