Stakeholder Management and Why Do We Do It

So why is stakeholder management so important? There are so many reasons that people say we should do this and everyone is talking about it at the moment but does the time we spend on this activity add any value? 

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There are so many techniques and so many ways people teach us about identifying stakeholders, stakeholders in projects, stakeholders in change, stakeholders in our lives, it just seems to be so complicated so where do I start. I would suggest starting by considering: hat is a stakeholder? According to the dictionary, a stakeholder is “an individual, group or organization that is impacted by the outcome of a project.”

I know that we all think of stakeholders as something in business, but we should remember stakeholders are involved in decisions we make every day. Imagine you want to buy a family car; all of your family hold a stake in that decision and should be part of the project.

Your kids can be negatively affected if you buy a three-door car and not a five as they will have to climb over the back whereas your partner has a stake as they want the car to meet their needs. All of this is part of stakeholder management and needs to be considered before we even start to look at how to manage the people. 

Stakeholder Management: Influence the Stakeholders

Let’s assume that you now have a list of all the stakeholders that you need to consider for the project where do you go from here? You need to make sure that you can influence these stakeholders and the question: is how you do that. I was informed early in my career that I didn’t have “gravitas” and was never taught what that meant, however, it was really about influencing.

Some people are naturally gifted at influencing but others need to work at it. So, let us help you work at it then, let’s learn how to do it in a structured way.

The first of which is to understand what outcomes you are looking for against each of the stakeholders. So, what do we mean by the outcome? We mean: “what are you looking to achieve with that partner being a stakeholder in the project?” 

What is most important in this whole activity is to understand “What Is In It For Them”, and you will hear this regularly abbreviated to WIIFT. Why would they want to bother with your project? Why would they be a part of the project? What are they going to achieve by being involved? 

Once you answer these questions then you understand the WHY. The why is the motivating force and the reason they want to be part of the project.

This really takes thinking about and researching and studying the stakeholders in question. You may need to speak to others, you may need to research them on social media, build an avatar for them and all their characteristics, but once you have the why for them I promise you this will be the best piece of data you can ever have.  

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Stakeholder Management: Labelling System

I would personally then think about a labelling system for the stakeholders. The idea is that at some point you really want to know where to allocate your time and that would usually be by some sort of labelling system that you can use. At PDNHub we have a labelling system that you can use that will then help you prioritise which stakeholders need urgent work and which ones can be dealt with over time. 

Then you would want to allocate each of your stakeholders to one of the following categories: 

  • Against it happening 
  • Let it happen  
  • Help it happen  
  • Make it happen  

Each of the stakeholders can then be allocated based on both: where they are today, and where you need them to be.  

As we all know massive action is the key so we would then suggest for each stakeholder you define: what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when does it need to be done. By regularly reviewing each of these actions you can make sure that what you are doing links back to what the stakeholder is there for, and also why the stakeholder is there. This is an incredibly powerful tool and helps you to process the information in a very simple format.  

We at PDNHub have a FREE webinar where we demonstrate the template and you can see how it works.