The Importance of Stakeholder Management and Tips to Implement

The Importance of Stakeholder Management and Tips to Implement

The Importance of Effective Stakeholder Management and Tips for You to Implement

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Why is Effective Stakeholder Management Important?

I have been honoured to have had the opportunity to work with very talented groups in major global and local companies as a Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Management Consulting Services and with my own boutique consulting companies. This included working with  "blue-chip" companies like ExxonMobil, Coca Cola, Caltex, Telstra, Queensland Government, the City of the Gold Coast and many others.


I had the opportunity of working in the US, Australia, 7 years in Japan and 4+ years in Singapore - with engagements in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. (By the way, it was a great experience for my family in being exposed (and tolerant) of other countries and for me growing as a professional and as a person.


It was interesting that at times even though there were complex busines issues to be solved or business objectives to be realised, consistently it wasn't the technology issues that presented the major obstacles but it was the "people issues" that presented the greatest challenges. If these issues were not addressed, often the projects or initiatives would "wither on the vine" or have minor successes that unfortunately were not sustained.  Therefore the key to effective sustainable change and business results involved effective stakeholder management. 


One example is a major global insurance company client (based in Australia) who had a complex set of stakeholder both nationally (in a matrixed organisation) and globally.  Ironically in the initial attempt of an ambitious project in building a new business model and webportal for international students to purchase services while overseas, they "forgot" some of the key stakeholders including the Chief Sales Officer (CSO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) the Chiev Executive Officer (CEO) and many of the senior leadership in overseas branches of the organisation.  This resulted unfortunately in the failure of the initial attempt of implementing this project and product.


I was brought in to do "an autopsy" on the project and to advise as to whether it could be "resurrected" and re-staged for success.  The insurance company saw that this project was a key differentiator for their marketing and delivery of services, and they came to understand that having stakeholder buy-in and support was key to the sustainable positive results.


For further details on helpful approaches and tools for effective stakeholder management, you can set up a free strategy call at the following link: https://kenbusinessdoctor.youcanbook.me/

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What is Effective Stakeholder Management?

Effective stakeholder management involves first the understanding of the key participants or affected parties in the implementation of key projects or transformation initiatives.  This involves gathering of the name, role and responsibilities of the key parties, and then understanding their influence and power in the support and ultimate success of the project.


It then involves mapping out communication strategies and plans for keeping those participants "on the journey" by communicating with them according to a proposed frequency and medium that they find valuable. Often this involves personal one--to-one meetings to understand their perceptions of the project and to understand "what is in it" for them.


With the global insurance company mentioned above, effective stakeholder management included activities such as a bi-monthly "showcase" of the iteratively-developed software to key stakeholders, a monthy newsletter for the leadership in overseas branches, and the personal updates on a weekly basis with the CSO and the CFO and every two weeks with the CEO.  This proved effective in "keeping them on the journey" and continuing to support and prioritise this importnat project.


Effective stakeholder management also involved individual meetings with key senior stakeholders and Exeutives - -who had very limited time  and bandwidth -- so their time commitment was guarded and respected to ensure that they continually understood "what was in it" for them and their respective departments. 


Special attention for example was given to the Chief Sales Officer who was able to help prioritise the project for his leadership team who were concerned that the project could be a distraction from meeting their sales targets.


Multiple honest (and animated at times discussions) were had to ensure that consequences were understood if there was not commitment to the project and if there was commitment.  This required honesty, courage and assertiveness to ensure that these consequences were well understood.  I have to admit as a senior Project/Program Manager that this required "digging deep" to stay focused, positive and confident!

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How does One Implement
Effective Stakeholder Management

As noted above, effective stakeholder management requires a comprehensive understanding and mapping of the influence and predispositions of the key stakeholders (e.g. some are positive toward the project, some are indifferent and some at times may be against the project. It also requires holistic planning of all of the interactions and communications with the key stakeholders -- even down to respecting their preferred means of communication, e.g. face-to-face meetings, emails, individual briefings, small team meetings or "town halls".


Clearly and simply documented plans and tools such as "heat maps" or "radars" that show the key stakeholders and their degree of influence can be particularly powerful in helping inform  pragmatic communication plans.  


Reporting on project status via "traffic lights", i.e. green, yellow, red can be particularly helpful in communicating to time poor Executives.  Getting onto Executives' schedules and effectively working with their Administrative Assistants is important,


Also using Change Management frameworks such as PROSCI model of individual change (and their ADKAR  model (standing for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement) can be very helpful to understand the current positions of the individual stakeholders and to then map a path forward for each of them.


Even for small to medium sized projects, sometimes it is surprising how many stakeholders there are - and therefore these techniiques of stakeholder mapping  in terms of influence and power can be helpful -- especially for informing communication plans which are so important "to keep everyone on the journey". 


For those interested in helpful tools and approaches, you can contact me and set up a free strategy call appointment via the following link: https://kenbusinessdoctor.youcanbook.me/

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