Coaching Session: Stakeholder Management

I really enjoy coaching as it stretches me to think about things in different ways / possibilities. Most recently, it’s been about Stakeholder Management.

Stakeholder management had always been one of those things that I never really took any notice of. It was more of “something to do on a checklist” rather than: what does it really look like? How does it work in reality? So when I was asked to support a friend who was struggling with it in their project, I jumped at the opportunity to help.

What does the Matrix look like for you?

There’s a lot of different formats which are used for Stakeholder Management. I’ve said that it doesn’t matter which format you use, it has to be one that’s fit for purpose and suitable for your project!

2018-11-13 13_48_11-Sample stakeholder Register and Power matrix - Excel

What input is needed for the “Power Interest Grid”?

There are a few things that you need to gather before creating a power / interest grid. I’d conduct a full stakeholder analysis with your team to make sure that you’ve included everyone (don’t forget vendors, third parties or other interest groups!). Once you have this, you can either choose to do the analysis by yourself for how powerful each stakeholder is or you can work together with your team to come to a common consensus. I often do this task by myself and check a few of the uncertainties with peers/ the team.

2018-11-13 13_51_40-Sample stakeholder Register and Power matrix - Excel

How do you get this input?

The friend who was struggling with their project didn’t really know who was involved in the project so didn’t know their power/interest so I suggested that they make this a living document and update it along the way once they get to know the team and the dynamics.

It’s important to remember that both Power and Interest for a project can change during a project (both positive and negative).

How to build relationships with people you’ve never met and will never meet?

This can be the most difficult part of Stakeholder Management and one that i’d recommend that you spend some time to work out:

  1. What’s feasible? Is it possible to spend some time on this? Could you arrange face to face to help build the team?
  2. What’s right for the team/ stakeholders: This one can be difficult to assess but you need to understand what’s best for the stakeholders that you want to build a relationship with. Are they someone who just wants emails and that’s fine? or are they someone that you should be making an effort to have a lunch/ catch up with?
  3. Have a look at what’s important and then go from there to know how you can build your relationship.

Some ideas for building remote relationships:

  1. Consider using video conferencing to ‘bridge’ the gap
  2. Look at what onsite meetings you can use to check in and spend some time on team building activities when you get there
  3. Ask them! Ask them how they want to be kept informed. what’s best for them and what they can expect from you. This can also be a great exercise on building relationships within your project.
  4. Try to bring the remote team members into the ‘onsite’ project. This could be with secret santa, silly jumper day etc. Anything to help show them that they are in the team.

Stakeholder management can be a difficult thing to master and it’s one thing that you will need to adapt for every project and group of stakeholders. There is no “one fits all” solution but you can reuse some of the skills you have in other ways.

What are your tips for effective stakeholder management?

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