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managing stakeholder relationships
4 min read

6 Tips for Managing Relationships with Stakeholders

Building positive relationships with stakeholders is critical to the success of any organisation.

As stakeholders can have an impact on your organisation and its projects - in a positive or negative way - it’s important to maintain good relationships with them.

Just like in any relationship, you need to be able to communicate with your stakeholders and show that you care about their needs. And to do so, you must manage them properly.

How to manage stakeholder relationships

Here we bring 6 tips on how you can effectively manage your stakeholder relationships:

  • Define and prioritise your stakeholders

The first step to managing any relationship is understanding who your stakeholders are. You can't manage what you don't understand, so take some time to sit down and map out your different stakeholder groups, considering their needs, interests and expectations.

Our guide to categorising stakeholders and stakeholder mapping guide can help you identify and map all your stakeholders, so you can determine your stakeholder groups based on their influence and impact.

  • Set expectations early

Once you've identified your stakeholders, it's important to set expectations from the outset. What do they want from the relationship? What do they expect from your project? What can you realistically provide?

You must be transparent and inform them of your project scope from the very start. By setting clear expectations early on, you'll be able to build trust and avoid misunderstandings and conflicts down the road.

  • Communicate regularly and consistently

Managing stakeholder relationships isn't a one-time task; it's an ongoing process that requires regular communication.

Keep your stakeholders updated on your progress, changes in the project or organisation, and anything else that might be relevant to them. This will show them that you value their opinion and want them to be involved in your decision-making process, and they’ll be more likely to support your project.

Based on the stakeholder groups you have identified previously, you can create an engagement plan considering the different levels of engagement each group requires.

There are several communication tools you can choose from to engage with them in their preferred way.

  • Be responsive to their needs

Just as you expect your stakeholders to be responsive to your needs, it's also crucial to be responsive to their concerns and requests. If they have a problem or issue, make sure you address it in a timely manner.

Don't ignore their emails or calls - this will only make them more frustrated and less likely to want to work with you. If you're not sure how to solve the problem, ask for their advice.

You may have to deal with difficult stakeholders – those that oppose your project and resist change. By actively listening to their concerns and involving them, you can find ways to help them embrace change, and show the influence they have on your project and the benefits your project aims to bring.

Stay organised with all the engagement created so no stakeholder concern goes without an answer. A stakeholder communication system can make it a lot easier to organise, manage and track every single piece of engagement.

  • Seek feedback

Feedback is essential for any relationship, and with managing stakeholder relationships is no different. Make sure you're regularly seeking feedback from your stakeholders so you can continue to improve the way you work together.

Not only may they provide you with powerful insights or ideas you can use to improve your project, but they'll appreciate that you value their opinion, helping build trust between you.

Surveys, polls, emails and focus groups are a few of the methods you can use to obtain valuable feedback from your stakeholders. Using a single platform to manage all these communications channels is the best way to centralise and analyse all the information received.

  • Deliver on your promises

Make sure you follow through when you say you’re going to do something. Your stakeholders will believe you’ll keep what you promised, and not delivering can damage your relationship.

Regaining your stakeholders’ trust can be very difficult and you’ll want to prevent that from happening, so if at some point you need to make changes, make sure you clearly communicate the reasons why to all stakeholders impacted.

Developing stakeholder relationships

Building relationships with stakeholders takes time and effort.

It's a continuous process you must invest in order to properly deal with the difficult ones and obtain stakeholder buy-in to support your projects and long-term sustainable strategies.

By following these tips, you ensure your relationships with stakeholders are positive and productive.

The best way to manage stakeholder relationships

There are many tools you can use to support your stakeholder relationships. Spreadsheets, survey platforms, event management tools and emails, to name a few.

However, keeping stakeholder information scattered across multiple tools hinders your possibility of analysing how your stakeholders' relationships with you change over time. Not to mention the risks of data mismanagement, user error or lack of safety.

That's why an SRM - a stakeholder relationship management tool - is the best option to centralise all your stakeholder relationship data in one single and secure solution.

A system like Tractivity offers a complete view of your stakeholder engagement and all the communication tools you need to maintain positive relationships.

Contact us today for a free demo and learn more about the benefits of centralising your stakeholder management and engagement in a single source of truth.

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