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7½ tips for managing internal stakeholders:
engaging stakeholders for maximum effect

"The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people,
but real management is developing people through work."
Agha Hasan Abedi

Keywords: Stakeholder, Relationships, Communication, Soft Skills. 

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7½ tips for managing internal stakeholders: engaging stakeholders for maximum effect   [P161]

Overarching principles:
•    Every action and activity involves stakeholders (but they may be different every time)
•    Knowing who is important for your success makes you more effective
•    Using a structured approach enables most effective use of your scarce resources
•    Communication is the key to successful engagement:  information is the basis of communication and comes in various disguises

The tips:
  1. Be clear about the project (or activity): until you can define the environment and context of the work you cannot clearly define who will be affected or can affect its success.
  2. Beware of stakeholder myopia: there is no upper limit to the number of stakeholders you should consider. Sometimes complex projects or long-term projects will have many stakeholders and the community will change over time.
  3. Especially when you have many stakeholders you will need to be clear on which ones are the most important. How might you do this? The one who yells the loudest? The end-user who will quietly resist all you efficiency innovations? Your colleague who is attempting another piece of work that will counteract what you are doing?
  4. Be clear on their expectations: until you know ‘what’s in it for them’ you will not capture ‘hearts and minds’. until you know what they want you may not be able to secure their support or manage their perceptions of your success.
  5. Remember that while your work will deliver a new product or service (or change) the real challenge is to convince your stakeholders that this change is worth their while to adapt to. This is the change challenge!
    a.    The reason for the change must be explained in terms of how it will affect them.
    b.    Changes need to be defined, communicated, supported by training and senior management overt support.
    c.    Ongoing support afterwards and possibly audits for compliance.
  6. You are not superman (or woman). Even if you have no staff you need to draw on the support, strengths, influence and inputs of others. You will burn out if you try to do everything, so for the sake of your life and relationships you must prioritise and find ways to share the thinking and doing load.
  7. The ‘credibility bank’ – even before you have problems you need to develop a reputation for being competent and trustworthy. This will give you credits in the ‘bank’ to draw on when you need them.
  8. (or 7.5) Keep building that network – your circle of influence is important to you. Get involved in ‘communities of practice’; keep connected – your network and where you fit is your strength and your insurance!
 .

Author: Lynda Bourne

Presented at:

CIPSA Category Week
29th May – 1st June 2012 
The Australian Technology Park, Sydney

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