By Rachel Thompson, who has fifteen years experience of helping organizations and business leaders to manage change and work more effectively.
"Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every project in every organization I have ever worked with. By engaging the right people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference to its success... and to your career."
As you become more successful in your career, the actions you take and the projects you run will affect more and more people. The more people you affect, the more likely it is that your actions will impact people who have power and influence over your projects. These people could be strong supporters of your work – or they could block it.
Stakeholder Management is an important discipline that successful people use to win support from others. It helps them ensure that their projects succeed where others fail.
Stakeholder Analysis is the technique used to identify the key people who have to be won over. You then use Stakeholder Planning to build the support that helps you succeed.
The benefits of using a stakeholder-based approach are that:
The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is to identify who your stakeholders are. The next step is to work out their power, influence and interest, so you know who you should focus on. The final step is to develop a good understanding of the most important stakeholders so that you know how they are likely to respond, and so that you can work out how to win their support – you can record this analysis on a stakeholder map.
After you have used this tool and created a stakeholder map, you can use the stakeholder planning tool to plan how you will communicate with each stakeholder.
The steps of Stakeholder Analysis are explained below:
The first step in your Stakeholder Analysis is to brainstorm who your stakeholders are. As part of this, think of all the people who are affected by your work, who have influence or power over it, or have an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion.
The table below shows some of the people who might be stakeholders in your job or in your projects:
|Senior executives||Alliance partners||Trades associations|
|Your coworkers||Suppliers||The press|
|Your team||Lenders||Interest groups|
|Prospective customers||Future recruits||The community|
Remember that although stakeholders may be both organizations and people, ultimately you must communicate with people. Make sure that you identify the correct individual stakeholders within a stakeholder organization.
You may now have a long list of people and organizations that are affected by your work. Some of these may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care.
Map out your stakeholders on a Power/Interest Grid on our free template as shown in figure 1, and classify them by their power over your work and by their interest in your work.
For example, your boss is likely to have high power and influence over your projects and high interest. Your family may have high interest, but are unlikely to have power over it.
Someone's position on the grid shows you the actions you have to take with them:
You now need to know more about your key stakeholders. You need to know how they are likely to feel about and react to your project. You also need to know how best to engage them in your project and how best to communicate with them.
Key questions that can help you understand your stakeholders are:
A very good way of answering these questions is to talk to your stakeholders directly – people are often quite open about their views, and asking people's opinions is often the first step in building a successful relationship with them.
You can summarize the understanding you have gained on the stakeholder map, so that you can easily see which stakeholders are expected to be blockers or critics, and which stakeholders are likely to be advocates and supporters or your project. A good way of doing this is by color coding: showing advocates and supporters in green, blockers and critics in red, and others who are neutral in orange.
Figure 2 shows an example of this – in this example, you can see that a lot of effort needs to be put into persuading Piers and Michael of the benefits of the project – Janet and Amanda also need to managed well as powerful supporters.
You can create your own example of Stakeholder Analysis at work – whether for your current role, a job you want to do, or a new project.
Conduct a full stakeholder analysis. Ask yourself whether you are communicating as effectively as you should be with your stakeholders. What actions can you take to get more from your supporters or win over your critics?
As the work you do and the projects you run become more important, you will affect more and more people. Some of these people have the power to undermine your projects and your position. Others may be strong supporters of your work.
Stakeholder Management is the process by which you identify your key stakeholders and win their support. Stakeholder Analysis is the first stage of this, where you identify and start to understand your most important stakeholders.
The first stage of this is to brainstorm who your stakeholders are. The next step is to prioritize them by power and interest, and to plot this on a Power/Interest grid. The final stage is to get an understanding of what motivates your stakeholders and how you need to win them around.
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