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What Is a Stakeholder?
If you think a stakeholder is just the “client," think again. A stakeholder is any person or organization that has an interest in a project, whether the stakeholder is internal or external.
This can mean a client, but it can also mean a supplier or team member. As the project manager, you may be the stakeholder with the most at risk, meaning you're responsible for the project and its expected outcome, but how do you encourage stakeholder collaboration if you find yourself with no input and no interest?
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10 Collaboration Tips to Engage Stakeholders
- Help Them Write the Project Scope – If you can, get all the stakeholders in at the project scope level; you can bet there will be collaboration—and a lot of it. Don’t skip this important tip.
- Smooze 'Em – This is also true; stakeholders like to be noticed as part of the team, especially external stakeholders. If it helps to tell a stakeholder how much you value his opinion, do it.
- Bother Them – Besides throwing out the compliments, stay on top of your stakeholders, even if it means daily phone calls, texts, or emails. Let them know you will not forget about them and do require input.
- Accessible Communication Plans – A good communication plan is very important, but how accessible is your plan? If it’s not available to all the stakeholders, you may as well not write one.
- Meetings – Everyone hates meetings and would rather be working. You can hold short meetings if you’re strategic and make sure your meetings are effective and have an agenda.
- We Could Move Ahead But – Make this the phrase you live by and say it—often. Let your stakeholders know that without input, it’s impossible for the project to proceed.
- Accountability – Along with that project scope, you should assign some accountability to all of your stakeholders. If they know a certain element depends upon them, they are more likely to stay involved.
- Recognition – If you avoid recognizing your stakeholders, you’ll lose respect, especially in the team atmosphere. Reward and recognize your stakeholders.
- Be Specific – Don’t be wishy washy about what you want from a stakeholder. Tell them specifically and point blank what you, as the project manager, expect from them.
- We Need That By – Outline and designate certain timelines for when you expect input. If you leave that up to the stakeholder, you may never get it.
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By using these 10 tips for stakeholder collaboration, your project should run smoothly. It does, however, fall to you as the project manager to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Think leadership, here, and run with it.
If you shy away from stakeholders, you’ll end up as an island just dictating and that will get you nowhere—fast. You can’t collaborate all by yourself but you can engage stakeholders with these top 10 tips and in ways they can’t avoid but to respond.
Be an effective project manager and collaborate. If you don’t, the blame may fall all on you.
Image Credit (LeadershipChamps)