Other related sections of the PMKI:
The Stakeholder Circle® has been designed to focus management attention on the stakeholders that are important at this point in time, to the success of the business activity, or project, they are managing. It incorporates a proven methodology supported by a robust, easy to use tool that guides you through five easy steps to:
The Stakeholder Work Sheet (SWS) is a sophisticated Excel spreadsheet built to implement the Stakeholder Circle® methodology - see more on the SWS.
The fourth stage is engaging with the business unit's, or
project’s, stakeholders. This requires assessing the
current, and optimum, level of engagement of each
stakeholder by assessing their receptiveness to
communication and their supportiveness of the work to
determine the level of communication effort needed.
See more on engaging stakeholders using the Stakeholder Circle Spreadsheet.
Stakeholder engagement, building robust and useful relationships can only be achieved through effective communication. In this respect communication is far more than just sending project reports, it includes informal discussions over coffee, emails, blogs and every other transfer of information from the project team to a stakeholder. The challenge is to keep the communication workload manageable and the communication effective. The Stakeholder Circle visualization tool charts an activity’s key stakeholders according to their ability to influence the project’s success or failure. Categorization and charting of stakeholders holds the key to targeting the right stakeholders at the right time in the life of the activity and providing them with the right level of engagement, information and communication.
Defining appropriate responses requires an understanding of each stakeholder’s levels of support and receptiveness to messages about the project and if these levels are optimal or need improving: this is the engagement strategy and the precursor to a targeted communication plan. The data available in the tool and collected from earlier parts of the process are inputs to developing the engagement strategy.
The Engagement data required for each stakeholder is both the current level, and the pragmatic, optimum level of receptiveness and support:
Having assessed the stakeholder’s current level of engagement and the optimal level, a communication plan needs to be developed to:
Benchmarking can be used to make the assessment process relatively objective. First, identify a person who is ‘just within’ each of the categories (eg someone who is just in the ‘Passive support’ category) then by comparing the level of support of another stakeholder to the ‘minimum benchmark’ stakeholder it is easier to determine if the level of support is about the same or better in which case the stakeholder will score the same as the benchmark stakeholder (or higher if they are deemed equal or more supportive than the next categories benchmark). If the level of support is lower, the stakeholder would score lower. If the team cannot agree on a value for any of these parameters, set the value to 3 (this is the neutral rating) the value can be edited at a later date when more information is available.
This assessment creates a 5 x 5 matrix, with the neutral axis at 3. The four quadrants of the ‘Engagement Profile’ have been designated Problems, Possibles, Plodders and Promoters.
With an effective engagement strategy in place, over time the project should see a steady reduction in the number of ‘problem’ stakeholders and an increase in the number of ‘promoters’.
Knowing the expectations of the stakeholder in the form of ‘what each stakeholder requires from the project’ helps the project team deliver focused information designed to assure the stakeholder that what they expect to gain from successful delivery of the project will be achieved. Knowing the category of a stakeholder will provide the key to how the message should be developed and delivered:
The resulting strategy defines for each stakeholder the tailored messages most likely to be effective communications; including who, what, when and how they will be delivered. The strategy must then converted into action! This involves integrating the communication plan into the project schedule and reporting on it through team meetings and regular reports. Our Comm-Plan spreadsheet is designed to assist with the management of the communication effort (see below).
Stakeholder engagement, building robust and useful relationships, can only be achieved through effective communication. In this respect communication is far more than project reports, it includes informal discussions over coffee, emails, blogs and every other transfer of information from the project team to a stakeholder. The challenge is to keep the communication workload manageable. To be effective, communication needs to be planned, implemented, monitored, and reviewed. For more on this see: Communication management.
A range of tools may be used for this process, including
sophisticated communication management software and
various CRM tools. The spreadsheet available from Mosaic
is suitable for smaller projects:
A practical template for planning and monitoring the routine reporting and communication requirements of a project or program. For each report you define: - The report name, start date (first report sent) and frequency (from daily to monthly) - The planned recipients of each report
The system monitors when the reports are due to be sent and if they have been sent and received.
This is a very robust, easy to use tool that ensures that all essential reports and routine communications are effectively managed.
Download a free sample: Download Sample Spreadsheet
Art: Stakeholder engagement by any other name. From an organizational perspective stakeholder engagement is a means to achieving outcomes that are both commercially desirable and necessary. This article describes some of the overarching terms that incorporate stakeholder engagement as a core competency.
Achieving a Successful Engagement.
Identifying, mapping and prioritizing a project’s
stakeholder community is only the beginning. Projects will
only be considered successful when their key stakeholders
acknowledge they are a success. This requires the project
team to effectively engage with each of its key
stakeholders to understand and manage their expectations
and then deliver to project to meet or exceed the ‘managed
expectations’. Stakeholder expectations are never ‘fixed’;
effective communication can help change perceptions and
expectations to make them realistic and achievable. This
paper identifies appropriate strategies and mechanisms to
help project managers and team engage effectively and
ethically with their key stakeholders to help create a
successful project outcome including:
- Identifying and mapping the ‘important’ stakeholders
- Communications theory
- Influence networks
- Measuring ‘supportiveness’ and ‘receptiveness’
- Identifying the current and optimum levels for each
- Planning the communications strategy
- Using the right messages and messengers
- Implementing the communications strategy, and
- Measuring its effectiveness.
Art: Managing Stakeholder Attitudes. A very significant proportion of the risks around most projects are people based. The only way to identify, manage and/or mitigate these risks is by effective two-way communication designed to effect changes in key stakeholder's attitudes towards your project.
Prs: Effective Stakeholder Engagement for Project Success. This presentation outlines some practical actions that project managers must take to develop a reputation of credibility and competency through managing the relationship with senior stakeholders by influencing decisions, managing resistance to change, and providing a central support structure for stakeholder engagement practices. Research conducted over many decades has found that projects will only succeed with the involvement of executives, and with the engagement and support of other important stakeholders. Project managers must understand who their stakeholders are and who is important, and work to build and maintain robust relationships with these stakeholders through effective communication.
The presentation focuses on practical ways that project
managers can apply and build these relationships and
engage their stakeholders for the benefit of the project
and covers the following topics:
- What is communication really?
- Some practical tips for successfully engaging stakeholders:
- Your managers - upwards
- The team - downwards
- External stakeholders and Peers within the organization
- How to implement stakeholder engagement practices with examples from various organizations.
PP: The Stakeholder Chameleon – Ignore at your Peril! This paper presents results from two case studies that clearly indicate that the strategies needed to engage project stakeholder support are different for every project, even when the stakeholders are the same people. The case studies examine a construction project and an ICT project undertaken within the same organization that effected the working environment of a common group of people, using the Stakeholder Circle to identify, prioritize and visualize the relative stakeholder influence. The results of the analysis showed significant differences in the processes needed to manage the respective groups. Based in the information, the project teams recognized they needed to adopt significantly different strategies to achieve stakeholder engagement, leading to stakeholder satisfaction and successful project outcomes.
Prs: 7½ tips for managing internal stakeholders: engaging stakeholders for maximum effect. Every action and activity involves stakeholders (but they may be different every time). Knowing who is important for your success makes you more effective, using a structured approach enables most effective use of your scarce resources, and communication is the key to successful engagement: information is the basis of communication and comes in various disguises. These 7.5 tips help you to know who is important for your success and communicate effectively to achieve a successful engagement: information is the basis of communication and comes in various disguises:
Art: Stakeholders - from confrontation to engagement. For most stakeholders, how you choose to deal with them is largely up to you. This article outlines the three basic ways you can deal with stakeholders.
Art: Communicating in Conflict. One of the realities of life is every once in a while, you are going to become embroiled in a dispute or argument that is emotional and personal. This article maps out a set of strategies that can help you stay focused on using communication to achieve a pragmatic outcome you can 'live with'.
WP: Communication Theory. Effective communication is the foundation of effective stakeholder engagement.This paper outlines the theory of communication.
PP: Beyond Reporting - The Communication Strategy. Communication is a science and an art. Communicating effectively with the project’s important stakeholders, so that their expectations can be both managed and met, is central to achieving a successful outcome. Reports are not enough! Communication is a complex two way process within the overall relationship between the project and the stakeholder. This paper identifies the key processes involved in developing and implementing an effective communication strategy.
PP: Communications Control? Information supports the decision makers, informs people and organizations of the work required to be done, monitors progress, and provides support and assurance at all levels of the organization of progress or of the need for intervention. This paper explores how communication in the form of information exchange controls and assists the work of organizations to deliver value to all stakeholders.
Art: Stakeholders and Complexity. Project ‘control systems’ don’t control anything and to a large extent, neither can project managers.In the complex world of the 21st century, communicating to influence outcomes is the key to success.
WP: Win-Win Negotiations. There are many advantages to win-win strategies when stakeholder engagement is considered, such as long-term business relationships, efficient processes and more value in the outcomes for both sides. The idea of a win-win can be very appealing but needs skill to achieve.
PP: Advising Upwards – managing the perceptions and expectations of senior management stakeholders. Advising upwards is a difficult skill for project and program managers to acquire. This paper uses modern stakeholder management theory as the basis for approaches designed to help successfully deliver projects within traditional organizations by appreciating the communication needs of senior executives and incorporating mutuality within the key supportive relationships. Senior managers in an organization have attained those positions by working through different levels of management and usually through learning and displaying aptitude in the laws of the corporate jungle. This aptitude includes the ability to recognize potential enemies and through preemptive strikes neutralize competition, and managing tasks and staff through the precepts of command and control. However, having reached the highest levels of an organization the skills requirements change from command and control to motivation and sponsorship. Many senior managers cannot change the habits of a working lifetime, and cannot easy make this transition.
Building on a previous paper describing this command and control behaviour and the existence of a ‘zone’ of uncertainty that does not feature in the senior stakeholder view of the world [see: The Paradox of Project Control in a Matrix Organization], further exploration is required to provide some guidance to PMs who encounter both the ‘zone’ and the behaviour. Stakeholder management methodologies identify the need to manage the expectations of stakeholders, the Stakeholder Circle® provides a 5 Steps process to identify, prioritize, visualize, engage and communicate, and finally monitor the effectiveness of that communication. This methodology also emphasizes that there are different types of stakeholders – upwards (senior managers), downwards (the team), sidewards (peers of the PM) and outwards (outside the project); managing the expectations and gaining the support of each type of stakeholder depends on the influence that each type exerts on the project.
Expectations are never ‘fixed’; effective communication can help change perceptions and expectations to make them realistic and achievable. Conversely, ineffective communications can create the perception of failure in the mind of a stakeholder even when the project is ‘on time, on budget and delivering the specified scope’. Upwards stakeholders may think that project success equals ‘on time, on budget and delivering the specified scope’ and that the PM must deliver to these criteria, but the reality of successful project management is that senior stakeholders, particularly the sponsor must play as far more active and overtly supportive role to ensure project success. It is part of the PM’s role to not only understand this but also to do whatever is necessary to ensure that senior stakeholders understand and fulfill the requirements of this role. This is about creativity in relationship management: there is no template or checklist to follow; this is not the realm of the faint hearted.
The experiences of the authors, in large organizations, in managing the expectations and the support of key senior stakeholders provides a foundation for exploration of the tasks needed to turn a Commander into a Sponsor, how to use the resources available in the form of influence networks, targeted communication and plain persistence. Results are not miraculous, small improvements must be celebrated, the possibility of failure contemplated. Download the shorter conference paper. See also:
PP: Advising Upwards – Helping your Managers Help You. Advising upwards, helping your managers to help you make your project successful requires skill and strategy. Your project will only be considered successful if its key stakeholders perceive the project’s outcome as a success. These perceptions of success or failure are heavily influenced by the effectiveness of the project’s communications, and relationships, with its senior stakeholder community.
Studies have consistently shown a critical factor in creating successful project outcomes is the active support of senior stakeholders, particularly the sponsor. Successful project managers understand this and are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that their senior stakeholders understand the project’s needs and fulfill their support roles. This requires the project manager to be skillful at advising upwards, using effective stakeholder management techniques to engage the support of senior executives and to manage their expectations. Crafting this advice to senior management to achieve the required outcomes from the communication is as much an art as a science. Communicating for effect requires a clear understanding of the objective of the communication and the skills to create messages that are focused; on the right people, at the right time and carry the right information in the right format.
PP: Stakeholder Relationship Management. Using the Stakeholder Circle methodology for more effective stakeholder engagement of senior management. Studies have consistently shown that a critical factor in creating successful project outcomes is the active support of senior management stakeholders, particularly the sponsor. Successful project managers understand this and are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that this group of stakeholders understands the project’s needs and are prepared to support it to its (successful) conclusion.
Getting the 'soft stuff' right - Effective
communication is the key to successful project
outcomes! Effective communication with senior
management is an on-going collegiate effort by all project
practitioners within the organization; designed to inform,
educate and influence senior managers so that ‘sensible’
project decisions become the norm, no senior manager with
integrity will commit to a project knowing its objectives
cannot be achieved but communicating this information can
be difficult!. Most projects that are committed to achieve
‘impossible’ time, cost and/or scope objectives are
started because the correct ‘project management’ messages
were not received and believed by the senior managers
commissioning the project. Effective communication
with senior management is not a one-off effort by an
individual project manager. Rather it’s an on-going
collegiate effort by all project practitioners within the
organization; designed to inform, educate and influence
senior managers so that ‘sensible’ project decisions
become the norm. A key element in honest communication is
knowing what is possible. Writing on pieces of paper does
not change the future! It's therefore critical that
project practitioners clearly explain the limitations of
project management processes and use effective risk
management to deal with the inherent uncertainty
associated with every project forecast; then actively
monitor, update, adjust and report progress. This paper
- Techniques to determine the right stakeholders to focus communication effort on at each stage of a project
- Influence Mapping
- Elements of Effective Project Communications: right message, right messenger
- Strategies for communicating effectively
- Complexity Theory from a communications perspective
- Managing and communicating risk and uncertainty, and
- The key role of a PMO as the communicator and translator between projects and management
(see more on PMOs).
View the PowerPoint presentation.
WP: A Project Manager’s Mangers. The key senior management stakeholders who, when properly engaged, provide direction and support to the project manager.
Prs: Motivate your Manager! Senior management support is a critical element in the successful delivery of projects and programs. Without effective support from executives, project managers have difficulty accessing the full range of resources needed to achieve their projects objectives. This presentation focuses on a range of communication tools and methodologies project and program managers can deploy to motivate their managers to help them succeed. In most cases, a successful outcome is directly beneficial to the manager; the challenge is making the right connections.
PP: From Commander to Sponsor: Managing Upwards in the Project Environment. This paper provides a foundation for exploration of the tasks needed to turn a senior manager 'Commander' into a supportive Sponsor and how to use the resources available in the form of influence networks, targeted communication and plain persistence. Case studies based on experiences of the authors, in large organizations, in managing the expectations and the support of key senior stakeholders are used to ground the paper.
Art: Influence without authority. How to build credibility and acquire the ‘currency’ you need to trade for the support and help you require.
Advising Upwards: A Framework for Understanding and Engaging Senior Management Stakeholders. Building, and managing, relationships with senior (upwards) stakeholders is essential for success. Advising Upwards makes a detailed examination of stakeholder relationship management, starting with a discussion of the personal changes that senior managers must make as they move into executive roles in the organization, and recognizing that through targeted and purposeful communication the team must ensure that their senior stakeholders understand how best to support their work. See more on the book.
WP: Leadership. To survive and succeed in this VUCA world, leaders need to focus on, creating clarity, building unity,supporting inclusion, and fostering agility to assist in grounding and focusing their people during times of change;which requires both the leader and their team to be focused, committed, engaged, involved and flexible.
WP: Motivation. One of the key skills required by project managers is the ability to motivate team members and the wider stakeholder community, good managers lead and motivate their teams helping them be successful.
WP: The Art of Delegation. Effective delegation is the key to success, it frees up your time to manage and helps team member grow.
Art: Practical Stakeholder Engagement. Four of the basic ‘good practices’ that help you engage with your team and other stakeholders.
WP: Managing Meetings. Meetings are a key part of all projects and central to effective communication and stakeholder engagement provided they are managed effectively.
WP: Issues Management. Every issue comes with a stakeholder attached! Effective processes are needed to identify, prioritize, and manage issues.
Art: Lifting Stakeholder Management to the Next Level. Exemplary customer service often costs nothing (and can save money), but if there is a cost the value gained usually outweighs the price paid.
Prs: Stakeholder Relationship Management in the Supply Chain. Effective procurement leadership requires the skills and knowledge to engage effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. This paper outlines the critical role stakeholders play in the operation of an effective supply chain and suggests a range of techniques supply chain professionals can apply to enhance their organization's stakeholder relationship management capabilities.
Prs: Trust: a tale of two constructions. Building and maintaining effective relationships is not easy. It requires both parties to recognize that there will be differing expectations and definitions of success and requires work to develop the necessary trust through understanding the expectations of important stakeholders. Wembley Stadium illustrates how a lack of trust and ‘hard dollar’ contracts impacted relationships between the delivery partners; whereas Heathrow Terminal 5 proves the benefits derived from working to develop trust are well worth the effort.
Construction - Stakeholder Management in the
Many technically competent builders are failing to maximize the value of their work to their client organizations/employers by focusing exclusively on technology, data and processes. By including an awareness of communication and relationship management within the overall matrix of skills used to develop a schedule, cost plan, etc, the builder can transform the perception of the documents value from being seen as an ‘administrative overhead’ into a valuable resource. To achieve the spread of effective relationships needed to succeed, the builder, must recognize that project teams and senior management have different perceptions, expectations and measures of success and customize his/her communication strategy to meet their different requirements. The relationship aware builder is trusted and relied on by both project teams and senior management, acting as an effective cultural translator between the two groups. Technical competence is still a vital requirement, if this is missing there is no point in communicating, but once the technical issues are conquered the difference between average and exceptional performance is found in the capability of the builder to effectively relate and communicate with his/her stakeholders up and down the organization. This paper outlines a number of techniques and tools, including the Stakeholder Circle® that can be used to identify and map stakeholders, understand their requirements and develop an effective communication plan.
PP: Why is stakeholder management so difficult? The focus of this paper is the construction and operation of Heathrow Terminal 5 for British Airways, tracing its development from a successful construction project to its disastrous opening in 2008. Projects involve more than the delivery of a product, service or result: they create change. More than anything, they are about managing relationships both within and around the work and outcomes of the project. The challenge for organizations is to deliver successful projects in a climate of uncertainty by ensuring that all those groups and individuals affected by the change, the stakeholders, are engaged in a way that enhances collaboration, and the prospects for success. Through tracing T5's development from a successful construction project to its disastrous opening where thousands of bags were lost in the first couple of days, the importance of robust relationships and effective communication in every aspect of the successful delivery of a project’s outcomes is developed. We are all social animals: we don’t thrive alone. We need to build relationships in our personal and professional lives to be effective human beings. Building relationships requires us to understand two important factors: firstly, a sustainable relationship provides benefits to both parties; and secondly communication is the tool to build and maintain robust relationships. This is indisputably the case in personal relationships, but the same conditions apply to professional relationships. We all communicate: sometimes we do so unconsciously, but we need to appreciate that the most effective communication, personal or professional, is planned – we know the purpose of the communication, we are certain that the relationship is important, and we are clear about the level of effort we need to apply to the communication activity. Based on this premise, a methodology to assist organizations in effective engagement of a project’s important stakeholders is described and lessons that will benefit all projects are identified.