How to Manage Stakeholders Effectively

One of the most common questions I get asked in the business trainings I do is on managing stakeholders effectively. First, how do you manage their expectations? Second, how do you get buy in and compliance from them? Finally, how do you keep them on board?

The answer lies in the very word stakeholder. Holding the stakes suggests that whatever happens matters to them. The key is to understand how and why it matters to them. For example, everyone has values and things that are most important to them. If you want to handle them effectively you must know what they want and why they want it or the values that are satisfied by achieving that goal.

Managing their expectations then becomes far easier. By understanding what is important for them, you can focus on that when communicating with them. Knowing what they expect is obviously an important step. Then it’s about giving them the information necessary for them to get a realistic understanding of what is going on. The key is to keep them informed on a regular basis and explain the factors involved. Always under promise and over deliver.

In terms of getting buy in and compliance, this works the same as with all influence attempts. Understand how you can give them what they want and value in a way that helps you get what you want. So always ask yourself what is in it for them? What can you do for them? How can you build a better relationship with them? How can you position yourself and the idea in the most effective way?

Lastly, keeping them on board involves helping them feel a sense of ownership and investment in whatever it is that is going on. The more they feel that what is happening is initiated or at least impacted by them, the more likely they will defend it and stay committed to it.

Managing stakeholders involves understanding them better and communicating with them with this insight about them clearly in your mind.

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