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8 Tips for Managing Stakeholder Expectations

19th Feb, 2024
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    8 Tips for Managing Stakeholder Expectations

    Why Stakeholder Management?

    One of the most critical aspects of project management is doing what’s necessary to develop and control relationships with all individuals that the project impacts. In this article, you will learn techniques for identifying stakeholders, analyzing their influence on the project, and developing strategies to communicate, set boundaries, and manage competing expectations.

    By successfully managing your stakeholders, you will be better able to keep a lid on scope creep, ensure project requirements are aligned, understand tolerance for risk, and mitigate issues that would otherwise delay the project. Good stakeholder management is a testimony to your influence in an organization, and a key component of a healthy project environment.

    As the project manager for a coveted account, you are excited about the opportunity of a new project but anxious about a good outcome. The team is assembled, and you are confident they will help you successfully meet and exceed the client’s expectations.

    You’ve been here before and know that even the best-laid plans can quickly go awry. When this happens, you need to regain control fast before your team loses motivation.

    By properly managing the stakeholders’ expectations from the outset, the chances for a smoother journey are much more significant. Here are 8 tips for PMPs to help keep the stakeholders calm and reassured throughout the project, and also, in the end, take a look at some great PDU courses for PMPs that can help you build your leadership and project management skills. Boost your PMP exam preparation with hands-on projects while you learn.

    Top 8 Tips for Managing Stakeholder's Expectations

    1. Identifying the Stakeholder

    Identify who the stakeholders are. Obvious? Not always. Most projects will have numerous stakeholders, not necessarily the most easily recognizable. The PMBOK® Guide defines a stakeholder as a person or organization that is actively involved in the project, has interests that may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project, and may exert influence over the project. That could include senior management in your own company. If your company's significant influencers are not fully onboard, it could cause dissent in your team.

    You will then need to identify the other non-obvious stakeholders of this project. For example, who are the funders? They usually take a quiet back seat behind the movers and shakers, but if you haven’t considered their expectations, you might lose a significant influence. Keep brainstorming with other quiet but essential stakeholders.

    2. Choosing an Effective Communication Method

    Identify the stakeholder’s preferred method of communication. By using the most effective manner of communication, you will help ensure the stakeholder remains content. If you make the mistake of using the wrong method (or non-preferred method), it will cause frustration and a lack of confidence. It will show you didn’t listen to their initial direction.

    3. Giving Timely Updates

    Keep stakeholders engaged throughout the process with timely updates. Ask the right questions, of the right people, at the beginning and throughout the project.

    4. Meet the Set Expectations

    Accurately map expectations. Be crystal clear on the expectations from the stakeholder’s point of view. Ask them how they will measure the success of the project. Inevitably you will discover conflicting definitions of success. Some will consider meeting the final deadline their number one priority. Another might consider the end-user functionality of the final product as the most important. How do you manage these conflicts? One way would be to facilitate a meeting of all stakeholders (where practical) and help them reach mutually satisfying agreements.

    5. Choose the Correct Communication Level

    Classify the level of communication for each stakeholder. Understand who requires hand-holding and insists on receiving all details. Who prefers a basic, occasional overview? Who wants daily or weekly communication?

    6. Map Strategy According to Blockers

    Identify which stakeholders will be advocates and which will be roadblockers. Map your strategy accordingly.

    7. Engage in Decision-Making

    Engage the stakeholders in decision-making. Stroke their egos. You probably have already identified the best course of action, but present your findings so that you leave room for the stakeholders to feel they have been involved in the process.

    8. Manner of Project Delivery

    The manner in which the project is accomplished is vitally essential, not just delivering on the required specs. Stakeholders will remember the overall mood of the entire process. Their measure of success is not just the finished product but how you attain the end goal.

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    Stakeholder management is all about monitoring, managing, and improving your relationships with your stakeholders. Stakeholders play an important role in a product's life, managing their expectations and keeping them engaged throughout the product's development. 

    A good stakeholder management process is vital as it allows you to coordinate your interactions, goals, and ideas. You can evaluate the status and quality of your relationship with different stakeholders and assess their value. It involves aligning stakeholder expectations and keeping high engagement. When times are hectic, it is easy to overlook stakeholder management, which is significant for any successful project. It is important to identify the significance of stakeholder management. 

    Stakeholder management helps businesses effectively implement strategies to keep the stakeholders engaged. Businesses must have a strong bond with key stakeholders and maintain steady growth. The process is just as important as the goal because the stakeholders would value the environment within which the project succeeds and not just the success. Checking your stakeholders' statuses is key. Listening to your stakeholders and providing and receiving feedback is important for a business to grow. The best Project Management certification course will help you get globally recognized accreditations and enhance your knowledge areas.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1How do you align stakeholder expectations?

    Successfully aligning the stakeholder's expectations is a five-step process.  

    • Firstly, you should be able to recognize the right foundation for your business. It allows you to recognize the scope of your business.
    • Secondly, you should gather as much feedback as possible. Work on these issues without compromising your vision. 
    • Thirdly, identify your key stakeholders. Involve the right people in any decision-making process, and keep the important stakeholders on your side. 
    • Fourth, the feedback you receive is of different values. Make sure you prioritize and rank the feedback.
    • The final step is to make the recommendation to the stakeholders highlighting its scope and potential risk.  
    2What are the seven principles of stakeholder management?

    The Clarkson Center for Business Ethics & Board Effectiveness elaborated on the seven principles during four conferences. These conferences were between 1993 and 1998. The 7 principles are -

    • Communication: Bad communication is often the cause of unclear goals, misunderstandings, and poor cooperation between team members. Share information and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable communicating, even the smallest piece of information. 
    • Monitor: It is important to monitor the concerns of key stakeholders to make them feel valued. Monitoring such feedback helps you to plan your future.  
    • Listen: Be sensitive to the concerns of your stakeholders and value their judgments and capabilities. 
    • Recognize: The benefits and the burdens that arise with a business should be wisely divided among the shareholders. 
    • Cooperation: Ensure cooperation is maintained with other public and private entities to minimize or avoid any harm from the corporation. If not possible, it should be properly compensated. 
    • Avoid: Any risk of human rights violation must be completely avoided. 
    • Acknowledge: Ensure the conflict between the shareholders' roles and their legal and moral responsibilities is brought up. Try solving any conflict via open communication. 
    3What are the 5 different stakeholder engagement approaches?

    Five different approaches to stakeholder engagement help incorporate the stakeholders' views and opinions. 

    • Partnership: Requires a detailed identification of the stakeholders. 
    • Consultation: Stay in touch with the stakeholders by consulting them about various issues and conflicts.  
    • Push Communication: One-way communication where the information is shared with all or select stakeholders via letters, emails, etc. 
    • Pull Communication: Here, the information is made available, and the shareholder may or may not see it for themselves. 
    • Participation: Share duties and tasks based on the expertise of each shareholder. Utilize the experience of the shareholders and involve them in the project as per their availability and knowledge. 

    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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