Stakeholder Engagement

From the The Critical Path Blog
by , ,
Welcome to The Critical Path--the home for community happenings and events on ProjectManagement.com! This is where you'll find community news, updates, upcoming events, featured member posts and more. We'll also be showcasing hot topics in the project management arena and bringing you interviews with industry experts. The Critical Path is our primary way of getting news out to members, so be sure to check back for updates!

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Marjorie Anderson
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield

Past Contributers:

Carrie Dunn
Danielle Ritter
Kenneth A. Asbury
Craig Dalrymple
Rebecca Braglio
Kristin Jones

Recent Posts

November Community News You Can Use

A Story of Monks, Trees, and New Horizons for the Evolution of the PMBOK® Guide

Navigating Complexity in Project Management

Register for our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything! Webinar

The Communication Net: Navigating Project Teams with an Active Listening Approach


Categories: PMI, standards


By: Maricarmen Suarez, PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition Development Team member

Is project management a science or an art? While we could debate this fun question for decades, I think we can all agree that there are elements of both. Our profession continues to evolve with a focus on quality, globalization of reach, and the velocity of change—we have seen it all. But first things first, at the center of it all, we see one thing in common—people. I genuinely believe that it is those human interactions that help us deliver value through project management. Consequently, a fundamental principle of project management seems to be stakeholder engagement.

Anyone that is impacted by changes can be considered a stakeholder. It is critical to define who our stakeholders are, acknowledge their motives and define their engagement, as well as understand their level of involvement and sphere of influence. As a practitioner who is continuously assessing the stakeholder pool, I ask myself daily that old question: “where should I spend my time and energy? With the optimists? The naysayers? Or the ones sitting on the fence?” I’m not sure there is a right answer to that, but my experience has taught me that the best solution is “all of the above.”

The optimist will always have a positive, can-do attitude. They help you move your initiative forward and, depending on their level, they can prove to be an invaluable resource to influence others.

As for the naysayers, it is essential to understand their drivers, i.e., what motivates them? Why are they against the project? What would it take to get them to a middle ground? Is there an unidentified risk, either opportunity or threat, that may have been overlooked? By no means, am I suggesting that everyone can or should be converted to the “right” side of an initiative; but as a project leader, my role is to ensure that everyone has a voice and that needs are met. I guarantee that while the naysayers may never be cheerleaders beaming with support, they have enough to be able to compromise and not derail or stop our initiatives.

That leaves the ones on the fence—those on the middle ground that can go either way but are choosing to stay on the sidelines to see what happens next. These stakeholders are the ones I find myself spending more time and energy with. Simply because I consider them sponges. The fence-sitters feed off of other stakeholders. While I can’t control every channel and every interaction of these stakeholders, I can ensure they have the right amount of information to make an informed decision.

Some best practices I use to proactively engage stakeholders include:

  • Creating awareness: let the person know how their behaviors can impact others on the team and help them identify remediation strategies.
  • Reposition negative statements: model your positive responses and don’t let the negative comments stand unanswered. When they come (and they will, believe me!), try to rephrase them in a positive or neutral light.
  • Involve the whole team: ensure everyone is working to the same outcome and that all stakeholder contribution is heard.

I consider stakeholder engagement a pivotal principle—projects are undertaken by people, for people. As practitioners, we have a unique opportunity to engage and serve stakeholders proactively. As they say in the flight safety briefings, always put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: October 14, 2019 08:13 AM | Permalink

Comments (9)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Dear Marjorie
Interesting perspective on stakeholder management.
Thanks for sharing

Thank you, Marjorie, well-written article. Best practice stakeholder management requires excellent people skills and the ability to change your communication style as needed keeping everyone engaged and informed.

Great insights, Maricarmen. Remaining positive and optimistic not only makes a huge difference but is contagious as well. See opportunities where others see challenges, lead by example through positivity and optimism.

People matter.
Rightly said == projects are undertaken by people, for people

Very interesting article., thanks for sharing

Thank you for this very interesting article. Great insight!

Great post, thank you for sharing... I certainly agree Andrew...

'In the practice of tolerance one's enemy is the best teacher', The Dalai Lama... I wouldn't say stakeholders are our enemy, however, some do test our levels.... now where did I put my oxygen mask

Thanks Marjorie for this excellent article.
Reposition negative statements - is the hardest, but i will give it a shot !

very impressive article, thanks for sharing!

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away."

- ChuangTzu

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors