Engaging with your stakeholders may be one of the most important aspects of managing a project. While the actual execution of the task holds its own challenges, communication and proper feedback from stakeholders are very close in difficulty and importance.
The reason for this is the project’s reliance on stakeholders and their overall effect on its execution. Thankfully, we’ve assembled some quick and clean ideas on how to better engage with your project’s stakeholders so you can skip the brainstorming of solutions and get right into applying them.
Learning how to identify stakeholders
The first step to engaging with stakeholders is to learn to identify the best ones for the project. The best time to start looking for fitting stakeholders is before any projects have started. y starting early, you are giving yourself enough time to not only get stakeholders but also hash out a plan for their management.
There are tools to do so, Borealis is one such tool that offers stakeholder management services. Make sure to interview them occasionally and put up questionnaires that will better discern the type of stakeholder they are.
Gauge their interest in the project, you want somebody who’s decently invested in the project as your stakeholder. The overall influence their presence will bring should be considered as well, which is where the aforementioned inquiries come in as they will give you a rough idea of the stakeholder’s behavior.
In the end, stakeholders have a direct impact on the project. By identifying them early and finding ones that are fitting for our operation, we can get them to become a contributing factor to the project early, avoiding potential disagreements deeper into the project.
Make them engage with each other
Once you’ve engaged them yourself you should have stakeholders engage with each other. While this may not seem like it’d reflect on your engagement you’ll see effects soon. The ideas and discussions between them can lead to them all being a lot more open about certain ideas and could even generate new, mutual ones.
Furthermore, this allows us to engage in a much more unified manner where all the stakeholders have been introduced to the discussion about the project at hand. This can also resolve any potential conflicts and disagreements before the cooperation starts. That way, we won’t run into problems where two stakeholders are butting heads later down the line.
Be direct and honest
When talking to your stakeholders it’s best to be as clear as possible. Transparency should be your key priority, never be afraid or uncertain about showing your stakeholders the current state of the project. Even if problems crop up it’s always going to be better to resolve them immediately and with their support rather than trying to postpone revealing the issue.
You may think that the problem isn’t really impactful or that it won’t stick around much but it’s easy to make mistakes in this department. Even if you are right, dishonesty is never appreciated and there’s a high chance whatever you are hiding will be discovered eventually.
Always give them ways to provide feedback
Your interactions with the stakeholders shouldn’t be exclusively left to occasional meetings. Doubly so if these meetings are always instigated by you. Stakeholders may have opinions to share outside of these meetings and sometimes there isn’t enough time or the subject may not be right for what they have to say. This is why providing your stakeholders with more ways of communicating is always good.
We suggest online surveys or proper email contact at the very least. Answer them on time and make sure to respond to all of the points they bring up in said emails. If you have a platform that you share documents on they could contact you there too but always keep this connectivity in mind. However, don’t spread your feedback options too wide or you may find yourself unable to respond to all of them or forgetting to check some of the sources of feedback.
Make sure to keep the project and your activity flexible
While we would all love to have a set plan and schedule for our projects, that’s far from possible. Things change, ideas come and go so it is best to keep a lot of room for flexibility when engaging with these processes. We suggest that you aim to accommodate and communicate with stakeholders rather than focusing too much on keeping a project going unchanged.
This way, your engagement with them will improve. Their suggestions will also feel a lot better felt as a result and none of them will feel left out of the process like they would if you squarely focused on pushing a plan that was initially conceived.
Your schedule and communication methods should be as flexible, if not more so, than the plans. While it’s understandable that nobody can be available 24/7, or rather they shouldn’t for the sake of health, make sure to shape your activity around a project so it better fits your stakeholders. These changes needn’t be major, sometimes moving consultation or private talks by an hour or two can make it a lot easier to get in contact with stakeholders and get info out of them.
As we’ve seen, there are multiple ways to approach engaging and improving your relationships with stakeholders which can improve the overall quality of your work. Don’t take even the smallest gestures for granted, although they are tied to the project and you may look at them as moving parts of the whole operation they are humans first and foremost.
A little kindness goes a long way especially when the initial meetings happen. Making them feel comfortable about their feedback will make it more frequent. The stakeholders will form a lot better interaction with the entire project if you know how to get them going. After picking out stakeholders that fit your style of operation, you should make sure that there are ample ways in which they can contact you for the sake of giving feedback.