Reflect for a minute – have you been engaging your stakeholders? Do you have an approach for consistently managing their perspectives and perceptions? We encounter many stakeholders on a daily and weekly basis among them, a few are strategic and can make or break your career. In the modern complex matrix organization, these aren’t necessarily C-level executives. Many times these are the people who impact your leadership effectiveness, by lifting obstacles and solving issues that are impeding your work. Here we look at how to engage stakeholders successfully, thus avoiding the pitfalls mentioned.
Learning how to engage stakeholders effectively is vital for project managers, team leaders, and professionals across various industries. We will explore six practical guidelines that will help you influence and lead strategic stakeholders successfully. By incorporating these strategies, you’ll be better equipped to foster strong relationships, gain support, and achieve your objectives.
1. Understand the Stakeholder’s Perspective
To effectively engage stakeholders, it’s essential to consider their points of view. Determine what is in it for them (WIFM) by evaluating their interests, goals, and concerns. This deeper understanding will enable you to tailor your approach and communication to address the stakeholder’s perspective.
2. Clarify Your Current Tasks and Objectives
Prepare a concise description of your current tasks and objectives, highlighting your most important strategic endeavours. Additionally, identify how the strategic stakeholder can assist in addressing the challenges you face. This clarity will help establish a shared understanding and facilitate collaboration.
3. Offer Context and Reasoning for Your Request
When engaging stakeholders, it’s crucial to provide context for your needs. Share a brief narrative of the issue and focus on expressing your needs rather than your position. Utilize concrete examples to illustrate your points, ensuring your message resonates with stakeholders from various backgrounds.
4. Emphasize the Power of Reciprocation
Reciprocation is a potent tool for building long-term, sustainable relationships with stakeholders. By offering support, assistance, or resources in exchange for their help, you demonstrate goodwill and foster a collaborative partnership. Dr Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” is a must-read resource that explores the power of reciprocation and other influence techniques.
5. Choose Powerful, Action-Oriented Words
When communicating with stakeholders, be mindful of the words you use. Avoid counterproductive language and opt for words that inspire action and collaboration. For instance, replace “but” with “and” to maintain a positive tone and eliminate “try” to express confidence and commitment.
6. Summarize and Recap Agreements Regularly
Since strategic stakeholders are often busy and may forget details, it’s crucial to summarize and recap agreements frequently. This practice ensures everyone remains on the same page and reinforces your commitment to the shared objectives.
In conclusion, learning how to engage stakeholders effectively is critical to your success as a project manager, team leader, or professional in any field. By implementing these six practical guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to influence and lead strategic stakeholders, secure the support you need, and achieve your goals.
At times, managers ignore the soft aspects of influencing and leading strategic stakeholders successfully. They neglect to affect the perceptions of the strategic stakeholders.
Remember that you get limited bandwidth to influence and engage stakeholders. In order to be an effective leader, you must make the most out of your interactions with them. By following the above guidelines on how to engage stakeholders, you will increase your chances of getting the support you need to complete your tasks.
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Michael Nir – President of Sapir Consulting – (M.Sc. Engineering) has been providing operational, organizational and management consulting and training for over 15 years. He is passionate about Gestalt theory and practice, which complements his engineering background and contributes to his understanding of individual and team dynamics in business. Michael authored 8 Bestsellers in the fields of Influencing, Agile, Teams, Leadership and others.
Michael’s experience includes significant expertise in the telecoms, hi-tech, software development, R&D environments and petrochemical & infrastructure industries. He develops creative and innovative solutions in project and product management, process improvement, leadership, and team building programs.
Michael’s professional background is analytical and technical; however, he has a keen interest in human interactions and behaviors. He holds two engineering degrees from the prestigious Technion Institute of Technology: a Bachelor of civil engineering and Masters of Industrial engineering. He has balanced his technical side with the extensive study and practice of Gestalt Therapy and “Instrumental Enrichment,” a philosophy of mediated learning. In his consulting and training engagements, Michael combines both the analytical and technical world with his focus on people, delivering unique and meaningful solutions, and addressing whole systems.