Leading Stakeholders

Stakeholder management involves everything necessary to control relationships with all the individuals a program has an impact on or affects to ensure the achievement of the program’s objectives. One of the primary concerns for any program manager should be stakeholder management, as it is an ongoing process that is never completed.

Our Guide to Stakeholder Management walks you through this critical process:

Part 1 of 6: Identifying Stakeholders
Part 2 of 6: Assess the Stakeholders’ Power
Part 3 of 6: Build Stakeholder Relationships
Part 4 of 6: Build Relationships Among Stakeholders
Part 5 of 6: Communication Strategies for Stakeholders
Part 6 of 6: Lead the Stakeholders

Part 6 of 6: Leading Stakeholders

You also need to educate stakeholders about the project management processes that you and your team will be deploying as well as the role each stakeholder may or may not play in those processes. Creating buy-in to the project management processes with stakeholders makes it easier to maintain the discipline necessary to follow those processes. That is why the program manager has to manage his or her stakeholders at the program level and make sure project managers are managing their stakeholders. Often the stakeholders may be the same, and the program manager has to determine whether stakeholder management can and should be delegated to the project manager. Even if delegation cannot be fully done, the program manager is often well served by delegating portions of stakeholder management to project managers.

The program manager has to lead stakeholders even when they are much more powerful and/or higher in the organization’s structure. This is also true of project managers, and the program manager needs to clearly communicate this requirement to all project managers. Both program and project managers need to champion and lead the project and not be intimidated by a stakeholder’s position or authority.

Program managers should also check up on how well project managers are handling leading stakeholder management by periodically (weekly or monthly or at milestones) calling the stakeholders and asking how the project manager is doing and whether their needs are being met. The program manager should inform project managers from the beginning that this quality check will take place. Never assume that no news is good news when dealing with stakeholders.

When program milestones are completed or when there is a change in stakeholders, the program manager should take the time to thank stakeholders for their contribution. Recognizing stakeholders’ contributions helps them feel like they are a part of the team and is likely to generate more team behavior than us versus them behavior.

Stakeholder management is an ongoing process that requires time and proper execution. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, project managers and project teams often do not spend adequate time and effort on stakeholder management. Thus, stakeholder management must be a point of focus for the program manager, who has to assure the execution of strategically planned processes to maintain positive and valuable stakeholder relationships.

Stakeholder management involves building effective relationships and constant communication to keep programs on track and successful. WorkOtter helps you keep stakeholders informed of important project status and build collaboration between those involved in the program. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can help you build your stakeholder relationships.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.

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