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What Is Stakeholder Management?

  • Amruta Bhaskar
  • Mar 4, 2021
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Stakeholder management is the process of maintaining good relationships with the people who have the most impact on your work. Communicating with each one in the right way can play a vital part in keeping them "on board."

Stakeholder management is the process by which you organise, monitor and improve your relationships with your stakeholders.

It involves systematically identifying stakeholder; analysing their needs and expectations, and planning and implementing various tasks to engage with them. A good stakeholder management process will be the means through which you are able to coordinate your interactions and assess the status and quality of your relationship with various stakeholders.

Most definitions of stakeholder management tend to focus on the idea that you can “manage your stakeholders (in order to get them to do what you want)”. The emphasis is placed on creating a stakeholder management plan that maps the level of interest and influence of stakeholders and lists various levels of engagement for the different groups. A plan is usually created at the start of the project and then filed away to gather dust.

A vital part of running a successful project is to develop and maintain good relationships with those communities who will be affected and other stakeholders.

Investing time in identifying and prioritising stakeholders and assessing their interests provides a strong basis from which to build your stakeholder engagement strategy. An in-depth understanding of your stakeholders supported by a sound engagement plan that is strategic, clear and prioritised help you develop and maintain relationships with those affected, mitigate risks, align business goals and eliminate delays.

In these days of increasing legislation around the protection of privacy and the right to information, it is even more critical that an organisation or project has a clearly defined Stakeholder Management plan and protocols in place. The risks of not taking a systematic, controlled approach to stakeholder management are high and increasing along with community expectations.

Companies that have grasped the importance of actively developing and sustaining relationship with the affected communities and other stakeholders are reaping the benefits of improved risk management, increased stakeholder support, and better outcomes on the ground.

Good stakeholder management also brings in ‘business intelligence’. Understanding stakeholder concerns and interests can lead to ideas for products or services that will address stakeholder needs, and allow the company to reduce costs and maximise value.

  • Reputation
  • Competitive advantage
  • Corporate governance
  • Risk management
  • Social license to operate

The key to a successful stakeholder engagement or public consultation program is to start with a good understanding of your stakeholders. And make sure you are testing and refining that understanding throughout the process.

  • What other information can you collect on stakeholders that will help you understand their needs, priorities, preferences and concerns? Consider:
  • Demographic data – make sure you are engaging with a broad cross-section of the community and stakeholder groups
  • Social networks – focus on the important, yet often undocumented, social connections between stakeholders
  • Stakeholder Mapping 
  • Salience model – examine the power, urgency (need for immediate action) and legitimacy (appropriate stakeholders) and the interaction or groups of stakeholders this creates
  • Identify Stakeholder expectations and compare them with the scope and expectations of the project or organisation for which you are running the engagement program. Is there a gap or mismatch of expectations and how will these be managed? Also, consider:
  • What information do they want from you, how often, and in what format/channel?
  • What financial/social/emotional interest do they have in the outcome of your work? Is it positive or negative?
  • What are the key motivations that will drive their perceptions of your project or organisation and their interactions with you?
  • What is their current opinion of your organisation and project? Is it based on good information?
  • Who influences their opinions, and who they influence in turn?
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