4 ways to manage stakeholders proactive

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Pernille Eskerod and Anna Lund Jepsen’s book, Project Stakeholder ManagementStakeholder management is a hot topic at the moment, given that A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(r) Guide) includes a tenth knowledge area on managing stakeholders. Pernille Eskerod’s and Anna Lund Jepsen’s book, Project Stakeholder Management is timely.
They argue that proactive stakeholder management is better than a reactive ‘wait-and-see’ approach. They offer four ways to manage stakeholders proactive. These are:
Maintain their position
Change their attitude
Activate their help potential
Their potential harm reduction
Let’s take a look at each one and see how they might impact stakeholder plans for your project.
1. Maintain their position
Stakeholders who feel positive about the project should continue to feel that way. Eskerod and Jepsen recommend that you keep them informed, acknowledge their position and ‘engage’ them.
This can be done by sending them newsletters, giving information, and inviting them to meetings. It shouldn’t take too much to keep someone already interested in the project feeling that way. It is important to not neglect them as this can cause a loss of interest.
2. Change their attitude
Project managers face different challenges when dealing with stakeholders who are negative about the project. They should be involved, but not in negative ways.
If they hold a key position such as the control of resources, they can become a real obstacle to the success and growth of the project. You should make an effort to change their attitude towards the project and help them feel positive.
Eskerod and Jepsen recommend that you talk to them about the consequences. However, you will need to do it sensitively.
You can address their expectations and explain the benefits of the project. You can also convince them with all your cleverness that the project is A Very Good Thing.
Talking to them (face-to face is best), inviting them to workshops to hear all about the project and giving them a formal position on the project will help them feel relevant, important, and involved. I find it sounds like pandering, but it works if they are interested.
These are the 4 ways to engage stakeholders proactively Activate their help potential
Help potential refers to the extent that a stakeholder can help you. You can tap into the help potential of any stakeholder, regardless of how they feel about the project.
You can tell them what you want (sounds obvious but sometimes people get so caught up in their own stuff that it’s hard to see how they can help), and use “power-based pressure”. This works best with people who can lift you up.
You could also ask someone higher up, such as their manager to volunteer to help. Jepsen and Eskerod also suggest that you make it seem more appropriate for them. In other words, point out to them that they should be helping this project because it is logical and appropriate.
You can provide clear instructions to these stakeholders, get them involved with people that are already modeling the behavior you desire, and invite them into project planning.
4. Their potential harm reduction
Harm potential is the exact opposite of help potential. It refers to the extent that a stakeholder can ruin your project.