How do you efficiently achieve great stakeholder management?
Winning Support for Your personal goals & projects with stakeholder management
Any personal endeavour will be dependent on the people around you. Therefore, it would be wise to align their interest with yours. But how can you do that; where to turn to see an example of a simple framework? How about applying tested principles in project management to analyse and manage stakeholder in a structured and transparent way?
You manage different stakeholders by identifying who they are. Then, analysing what power or influence, they hold over your goals or projects. Then, recognising their interest as well. Finally, after classifying stakeholders and creating profiles, you can follow a stakeholder management framework and plan.
The world is run not by machines but by humans. It is not the matrix yet (Elon Musk may disagree)! At first, I was reluctant to apply stakeholder management principals to everyday life. But in the end, I was surprised at how well they align with real-life situations.
Keep on reading if you want to be surprised as I was about stakeholder management application. We will learn to deal with our stakeholders by either:
- Ignore them
- Keep informed
- Keep onside
- Keep Satisfied
- Constantly and actively manage.
Simplified Human Psychology and Assumptions
The fact is that all people think about themselves most of the time. Of course, exceptions are kids, loved once, etc. I know this is a very simplistic approach to base the whole framework on.
But this egocentric way of thinking explains a lot about the various incentives and emotions people have in their life. Thus, for this blog post, I will assume egocentrism holds.
Why Do We Need Stakeholder Management?
It does not matter how good you are at programming, painting or how great is your project plan (my own experience). If you do not have your stakeholders’ support to achieve your goals, then your odds of success will be extremely low.
You will need somebody to provide you with resources, mental support and consultations. All of these people will need to buy in into your idea. However, not all stakeholders are made equal.
Why Identifying And Classifying Stakeholders Are Important?
A stakeholder could be any one person or institution, external or internal. You may know him/her/it or not yet. The critical point is that they have interests in the outcome of the project or your success.
Of course, you are keen to start your new venture immediately. You agree that stakeholders are essential. Job is simple; you just make sure everyone is happy, right!?
Not so fast! You should not try to please every single stakeholder the same way—this would be a sure path to disaster, waste of energy, mental capacity and time.
Why Do You Need Stakeholder Management For Success?
Therefore, the stakeholder management framework comes in very handy to conserve your energy and concentrate on achieving your goals.
We will look into stakeholders’ power/influence, and interest factors, which they have over your goals and success. I will suggest a real-life example and people you may want to work closely with to be successful. Hint: you probably know them already!
Books will tell you many things about how you should have X amount of habits, be a superstar, earn millions, etc. But rarely they dive into the support you will need from other people. The world is interconnected, and you need others as they need you to succeed.
Project books will also tell you that you should be starting stakeholder management when you start any project. Guess what! When you are born, you have already begun stakeholder management, whether you know it or not. Hint, these are your parents.
Keep it up! In life, Stakeholder management is a continues process and not a one-time event.
How Can Stakeholders Motivate You To Succeed?
You have your goal in mind, even better written on the paper, which is hanging on your wall. The first advice is to make sure people know about your goal. The more people know about it, the more likely you will start and finish it.
Now, you are ready to start, and you decided to take things seriously. You would like to structure your approach so that most people around you give you the support you need.
Where To Start Stakeholder Management?
But where should you start? Well, first, you need to identify who are those individuals that are who will hopefully help you or at least not hinder your efforts.
Let’s have a look into a few examples, which may affect you. While going through these, it would be handy to keep your goals in mind and think about who you should add or remove from the list.
What Are Real-Life Stakeholder Examples?
Why Is Your Partner A Stakeholder?
Likely a life partner is an essential stakeholder in your world. Anything you are going to do will affect them considerably. For example, if you need funding, you may need to tap into the family budget. Or, if goals will take some mental capacity, you may need moral support at the right time.
Therefore, they will be profoundly interested in your project’s outcome and the result it will have at the end. Hence, the right management will be essential to gain the support you need because the partner will have to make time or money investment into you.
Now, I am not talking about deceiving, evil manipulation, but more like having a conversation or two about why this is very important. More about this later in the blog.
Why Are Your Kids Stakeholders?
I guess the word “managing” might not be entirely suitable when talking about kids. Nevertheless, we should at least attempt to make sure that these little (or sometimes not so much) bundles of joy understand to an extent what is happening. Kids will always be interested in what their parents are doing. It is part of their instincts.
If you have kids, you may need to consider some creative management strategies. Thus, ensuring that they support you with your goals and allow you to succeed.
Why Are Your Parents Stakeholders?
Your parents brought you to this world and would like the best for you. Therefore, they are very much interested in your success. But they might not hold so much influence anymore. You may want to consult them on what you are up to or ask for help to look after kids. So, they should be part of your consideration of stakeholders.
Why Is Your Manager A Stakeholder?
A manager will be interested in your capability to perform work. It doesn’t matter if your goals are related to work or not; you should consider them to ensure no adverse effects in your employment. If you consider an internal career move, their influence and interest become even higher, becoming even more critical stakeholders.
What Are Other Examples Of Stakeholders?
I think you are getting the picture. All these people are affected by you and your goals. Identifying them helps you manage individuals around you and ensure you will have sufficient support.
Some other honourable stakeholder mentions:
- Social media network,
- Mentors/Support Network,
- Governing Laws & Regulations,
- Even your pet,
- Clients and
- Educational organisations
- Other individual suppliers.
Power Or Influence & Interest Empty Grid
How To Analyse Stakeholders?
Wait! I not only have to worry about my goals but manage all these people. Where could I find the time!? Do not worry. You do not need to manage all of these people to the same level or at the same time. A bit of analysis will help you identify who and how you should be managing.
It would be best if you considered how much power/influence and interest these individuals may have over your goals—consequently allowing you to understand each individual’s priority.
If you have your goal and linked stakeholders, this is the bit where you consider how influential these individuals are and how much interest they hold. Then add them to the right part on the grid above. Do not worry if you do not know where to put them precisely. In reality, these stakeholders move over time, and your approach to them should also change.
Of course, you are wondering how is this useful? Well, each position on the grid suggests what approach we should consider when managing stakeholders. Let’s have a look in a bit more detail with some examples.
Who Are Stakeholders With Low Interest and Power Or Influence?
Some stakeholders do not have much impact on your goals. For example, these could be your social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn.
However, it is worth to remember that power and interest do change. Thus, occasionally giving an update via post or a message could help you in the long run. Sometimes, it may attract contacts who would be willing to contribute to your venture. What do you have to lose!?
Who Are Stakeholders With Some Or High Interest but Low Power Or Influence?
You would think that the individuals in this group are less critical as they do not have power. You would be wrong. It is quite challenging to manage people in this group. They may be very interested and affected by the outcome of your goals but feel powerless. Thus, in some cases, they may hold you from trying to attempt your goals.
The strategy is to keep this group informed. Give them reasons why you undertake this project; what are the benefits; what would happen if you do nothing? Honesty is beneficial here. You may need to focus on the communication of the progress actively.
I think parents are a great example. They are super interested in your success. After a particular age, you are an independent person, and parents feel that they cannot influence you to achieve the right goals.
A little note or Skype chat with updates can go a long way here. You never know when you will need their help. Plus, well-informed parents may see why this is important to you, why this is a great goal; and help you willingly.
Who Are Stakeholders With Low to High Interest But Some Power Or Influence?
We are in the middle ground, and various individuals could fit into this group. Their interests levels could vary depending on your goal. However, if they feel that things are not going very well, they have enough power to make you pull the plug and stop you from achieving objectives.
You want these people on your side, which you can do by frequent positive communication or even involving them with the project. If they feel that they are part of it, their interest will be aligned.
I think the manager fit this profile very well. Say your goal is to work your way to a higher position or a different department. You will need support from your manager, who can make or break your move. Involved them early, if possible, do this as a joint project. Hopefully, this will result in your manager becoming your biggest fan and rooting for you to succeed.
Who Are Stakeholders With Low Interest But High Power Or Influence?
There is always a group of stakeholders that holds immense power but little interest in your goals. Just to give an example, a manager in a different department or CEO of the organisation. Trust me, both of them will not spend much energy to derail your goals or support you.
However, as we have said before, things can change. It would be best if you kept a watchful eye. People in this group can move positions, or their interest increases. Then you will need to adjust your stakeholder management strategy as per our next grid position.
Who Are Stakeholders With Some Interest And High Power Or Influence?
These guys or ladies have some indirect interest in the project. You need to consider them carefully and make them happy. They could suddenly change their views on your current goal or plan, and things could go wrong with the power they have very quickly.
One good strategy is to get them involved to some extend. Say, this influential stakeholder is your kid, and your goal is to make a beautiful cake. Why not allow them to mix. Now, they would care more and potentially let you finish the cake in time. Sure, I know with kids, you never know, but it is worth a try and consideration. Maybe they will surprise you.
Who Are Stakeholders With High Interest And High Power Or Influence?
We left the best one for last. These stakeholders are the key players in your life. They have the power to make or break your goals. Often the individual will be very close to you. An example could be your partner.
Before you apply any strategy, you need to identify the sentiment. If it is positive, make sure it stays that way. In particular, when things become tough. And stuff tends to become hard for worthy goals.
If they are negative, you will need to put in some more work.
- One approach is to find wins for your partner and highlight them.
- Second, you may need to find somebody else from your network with high power and increase there interest. Although in a relationship, it might be a bit dangerous. If you do so, you are at your own risk.
Power Or Influence & Interest Grid With Added Actions
Words Of Caution With Stakeholder Management
Some examples above indicate lower power/influence individuals or organisations. Yet, when you think about stakeholders around you, keep in mind that a group of such weak stakeholders may have a much higher impact on your goals. Thus, you will also need to keep an eye on changes in these groups as a whole.
For example, a group of extended family members could have much more power than a single individual.
Power Or Influence & Interest Grid With Actions and Stakeholders
How To Plan Stakeholder Management?
Yes, unfortunately, you will have to do some planning. Maybe it is only a plan in your head for simple projects like baking a cake.
But it would be best if you wrote a management plan for the most important goals. It will help you keep an eye on the most critical stakeholders, and you can investigate your notes for the best way forward in various scenarios. For instance, moving up in an organisation should have some more thought put into it.
What To Add To Your Stakeholder Management Notes?
It would be best if you considered recording these elements depending on the situation.
- Name and title (if one makes sense)
- Where does stakeholder stand in the power or influence and interest grid?
- The current interest of the stakeholder
- Hobbies at least two
- Kids (their names if possible)
- The prevailing attitude toward your goal
- How would you like him or her to support a change?
- How would you like stakeholder to act to help you?
- Think about what message you should give to achieve your goal
- Finally, create a little plan on communications and management you indent to have.
- Consider any deadlines. Maybe there needs to be some urgency in the matter.
I have built for you and excel form, which you can use to log and track your stakeholders. Here is a link to Stakeholder Management Form
Why Do You Always Need To Manage Your Stakeholders Continuously?
As we have discussed before, people will shift in their power and influence grid. You should adjust your approach to managing these individuals. The key is to engage in active stakeholder management to make sure they do not hinder your goals.
I see it a bit like oil and engine. You have your skills, experiences your knowledge, i.e. your engine. But you need to monitor your oil level to make sure you do not overheat or run out of steam, i.e. your stakeholders.
So, keep an eye on your stakeholders; give the right level of attention. Thus, enabling your goals and life to have a bit of wind in your sails. Allow your stakeholder to help you with the right strategies.
Please, let me know if you are already applying some of these strategies. Do you agree with some of the approaches; would you suggest something new or different. Let me know down in the comment below.
What To Read Further About Stakeholder Management?
Btw, if you like to learn more about stakeholder management in real life, there is a fantastic book, “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It is an absolute classic, written in the last century but so much relevant today. The author looks into strategies that resonate with what we have discussed and gives some great stories to illustrate and inspire.
There would be an audible version as well if you prefer listening on the go as I do. I believe you can get 30 days for free if you did not have an account before with Amazon audible. Let me know if you like the book as well in the comments below.
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