Today’s stakeholder managers’ job is not easy at all. They often face various challenges, and sometimes the most demanding ones are dealing with difficult stakeholders. However, do not despair – because we hope that we will be able to make it easier for you in our guide for 2023. Therefore, look at some valuable tips that can assist you when dealing with demanding stakeholders.
Stakeholders: What Are They?
Today, we hear this term very often, but it is still not very clear to many what the stakeholders truly are. Although the term stakeholder has become quite familiar with the work on various projects – many people do not think enough about its true meaning. So it’s time to finally explain certain things. A stakeholder is a term that refers to project participants, that is, individuals and institutions- who are actively interested in a certain project. Also, these may be parties whose interests may depend on the execution or realization of the project. So, in short, stakeholders are those who affect the project or the project affects them. Why are they so important? There are many reasons for it, and the most significant is that they can greatly influence the success or failure of a project. Therefore, the job of a stakeholder manager is very complex. Whether managing a small or large project or portfolio, their task is always the same – to carefully identify stakeholders and coordinate between them.
Why Are Stakeholders So Challenging For Project Managers?
Some say that it is always the greatest – but also the hardest thing to work with people. This claim can also explain the job of a project manager – as well as why this job is so challenging. Although many people wonder what kind of problems a manager could have in such work – we will tell you that project managers almost regularly face many challenges – precisely because of the difficult stakeholders. For instance, if your project is to place a neon commercial or billboard on an apartment building – you will be in big trouble if you do not recognize the tenants of that building as stakeholders. In that case, neither a well-made billboard nor a team of installers who will set it up will be worth it – because the key to the project is the stakeholders, that is, the tenants of the apartment building. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the requirements of stakeholders, their impact on the project – and also how much they are interested in the project. Of course, the main goal of project managers is to increase the interest in the project – and manage stakeholders’ expectations while the project is running.
How To Handle Challenging Stakeholders?
As we have already mentioned, the job of a project manager is not easy at all. Everyone needs to be satisfied, and that is sometimes almost impossible. The essence of a successful project is that everyone is satisfied – or that those who are less happy about it do not interfere with the further course and success of the project. It is not easy to handle, so the challenges in this business are almost every day. However, do not despair if you find yourself in this situation. According to Borealis, professionals can help you with this work, since you can hire help or use specialized software that can help you to be way better organized in your work. Here are also some other tips that could make it easier for you to work with demanding stakeholders and demanding clients.
1. Listen to what your stakeholders want to tell you and always remain objective and collected
Of course, complaints are an integral part of your pmtips.net as a project manager. Therefore, you are doomed to listen to complaints or lectures from your clients almost every day. We will agree that this is, by far, the worst part of your job. However, if you get into an argument with your client right away, it won’t help you much – even if you’re right. Therefore, show them that you listen to them carefully and that you are interested in their remarks – so you try to can find a common solution. Moreover, after they present their point of view, repeat it to them – so that it is clear to the client that you have heard and understood him well. If you get into an argument, it will only worsen the situation. Therefore, keep calm, be patient – but also try to keep an objective view of the entire problem.
2. Show patience, understanding, and interest in the problem
Difficult stakeholders are mostly upset if they realize that you are not involved in the issues that led them to complain. Sometimes even stakeholders have “the attitude” right from the start – or get unpleasant. However, this doesn’t mean that you should react in the same way. Keep in mind that the future of the entire project may depend on them – and show patience to listen to them and understand their objections. Also, you shouldn’t be “absent” while the client points out his remarks to you. Many perceive this attitude as disrespect or disinterest in the project.
3. Make an effort to solve problems effectively
As in any other business, this thing is of great importance when you deal with difficult stakeholders. Therefore, do not waste time, but after the first remark, start looking for a solution to the problem. Keep in mind that some problems take more time, so keep that in mind and don’t wait an eternity between conflict and problem-solving. If the problem is such that it requires a little more time to solve – inform the client and actively involve him in the whole process. Not only will this contribute to a relationship of trust, but with joint efforts, you may find a solution that would satisfy both parties more quickly.
4. Acknowledge if the problem was caused by your mistake and learn to forgive clients’ outbursts
No one is immune to mistakes, not even project managers. However, what you have to overcome is to admit the mistake when you make it. Do not hesitate to do so – because it shows that we are all humans who make mistakes. On the other hand, clients should do the same, but this sometimes doesn’t happen. Do not be outraged by this. On the contrary, forgive the misunderstanding – and do everything to keep your joint project going and progressing further.
Of course, stakeholder management is only one step in project management. However, this job is just as important as the other steps in realizing the project – but it turns out that it is often neglected. Therefore, we hope that some of our tips will help you overcome situations in which you may find yourself with stakeholders who, (truth be told), can sometimes be quite difficult.