10 key principles of stakeholder engagement

1. Communicate

Before aiming to engage and influence stakeholders, it’s crucial to first seek to understand so as to ensure the intended message is understood and the desired response achieved. 

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2. Consult, early and often

Ask the right questions so as to gain useful information and ideas. To engage their support, ask stakeholders for their advice and listen to how they feel. 

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3. Remember, they’re only human

Operate with an awareness of human feelings/potential personal agendas.  Accept that humans do not always behave in a rational, reasonable, consistent or predictable way. 

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4. Plan it! 

A more deliberate approach to stakeholder engagement is encouraged.  Careful planning and investment of time in this area has significant payoff.

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5. Relationships are key

Commit energy and time to building high-level relationships – this engenders trust.  Seek out networking opportunities.

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6. Simple, but not easy

Effective stakeholder engagement requires subtle skills such as being empathetic.  Engage, interact, listen – show you care.

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7. Just part of managing risk

Stakeholders can be treated as a category of (and/or a mitigation of) risk and opportunities that have probabilities and impacts.

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8. Compromise

Find the best compromise across a set of stakeholders’ diverging priorities.  Assess the relative importance of stakeholders to establish a weighted hierarchy.

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9. Understand what success is 

Examine the value of the project to the stakeholder. Ask what their success criteria are. Seek to clarify expectations - perception of success is influenced by the who, what and how?

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10. Take responsibility

Good project governance is key to any project.  It’s the responsibility of everyone to maintain an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders.

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Stakeholder management

Definition

Stakeholder management is the systematic identification, analysis, planning and implementation of actions designed to engage with stakeholders.

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