What is stakeholder management?

Top 5 common mistakes in managing stakeholders and how to avoid them 

There are many common mistakes in managing stakeholders that we can make, here's our top 5 and how to avoid them.

Top 5 common mistakes in managing stakeholders and how to avoid them

The most common mistakes you should avoid when managing stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement is a delicate process. There are many factors that affect the effectiveness of your management, and the outcome of your projects.

We’ve identified the top 5 mistakes that people often make in their stakeholder management process, and how to best avoid them – or surpass them.

Not identifying stakeholders correctly

The most critical part of stakeholder engagement is also the first step of management. Without accurately identifying who your stakeholders are, you won’t be able to create or use strategies. Planning for communication or risk management is impossible without first knowing who you are targeting, and who is affected by your decisions. It is imperative for managers to understand the importance of stakeholders, and the role each stakeholder plays in your process.

Stakeholders can be identified by creating lists, segmenting and categorizing based on industry or groups. These can then be segmented even further if needed. Stakeholders should also be mapped according to their power of influence, interest and impact. By creating lists and mapping them, managers can then effectively create plans and strategies for engagement purposes.

Not meeting the stakeholder’s needs and expectations

After the stakeholders have been identified, it’s critical to understand their needs and expectations. This requires good communication, transparency and accountability. The purpose of the project and all related information needs to be communicated with the stakeholders. It’s imperative that during this communication, there is emphasis and focus on the stakeholder’s needs and expectations – to ensure they don’t feel ignored or silenced.

Failure to manage stakeholder relationship as per their power of influence, interest and impact

When stakeholders are mapped according to their level of power for their influence, interest and impact in a project, it creates a need for prioritization and the type of engagement needed. Stakeholders should be managed as per their mapping. It’s a risky mistake to engage and manage all the stakeholders in the same manner. For example, a stakeholder with high influence requires a different strategy for engagement than one with low influence.

Inadequate management of risks and concerns

Even a small issue can turn into a huge risk if left unchecked. All emerging issues need to be monitored regularly, and after identifying them, the impact of the risk needs to be assessed.

If the risk heavily affects stakeholders, then this needs to be communicated to the relevant parties as a priority. For the success of a project, it’s important that risks are managed effectively and resolved before they can cause any damage. The effects of the risk must always be minimized.

Ineffective communication

Poor communication leads to misinformation and uncertainty. The intention and meaning can also be misconstrued, which can be damaging to your relationship with the stakeholder.

The key to effective stakeholder communication starts with listening. After identifying stakeholders correctly, you will have already listened to them, as you now understand their needs and requirements. Only after this can you understand and build strategies to engage with them in an effective manner.

Throughout the project, by keeping up frequent communication with your stakeholders you will always be on top of any changes and impacts that are happening.

When managers fail to communicate with their stakeholders they leave themselves, and their relationship open to negative impact. Stakeholders may feel left out, neglected and ignored without frequent communication.

To avoid these common mistakes in managing stakeholders, start identifying your stakeholders today. Aim to have a better understanding of them early in your project. Identify and find solutions to emerging problems and avoid conflicts and stakeholder risks. There are several benefits to practicing good stakeholder engagement and can help you cut down on costs.