You are a project manager and you must prioritize strengthening relationships with stakeholders. Every supplier, investor and employee involved in the project has a stake in its success and, on a larger scale the company as a whole.
Simon Simek, author of The Business of Success, argues that longevity is a key indicator of a company’s success. This refers to how the business adapts, strategizes and plays the “infinite games” and is not about winning or losing. It is the ability to chart a path for long-term, sustainable growth.
You must be intentional about building relationships with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure the success of your current and future projects.
This guide provides five tips to help you build and maintain these relationships year after year.
Let’s get specific: How to start and sustain stakeholder relationships
1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your stakeholders
Some stakeholders will be more involved in your project than others. The way you communicate with investors or suppliers will be different from employees or company executives.
Because each relationship is unique, this is why. The questions and requests of an investor tend to be focused on big-picture progress, while those of an employee tend to focus more on day-today operations.
While relationships with investors and financiers are important, you must ensure that you don’t prioritize these stakeholders at the expense your employees. It is important to instill value and recognize the contributions of your team.
Boosting morale leads productivity, which in turn leads to greater company success. This success attracts new investors, and confirms to existing investors that they made a good decision to invest in your project.
2. It’s not just who you know, it’s also who you get to know
Initiating a new stakeholder partnership is not about luck. It is all about positioning yourself at the right time and place.
You can make more connections by actively seeking out opportunities to network and meet potential stakeholders. Although there is no guarantee that a prospect will join your project immediately, it is possible to increase your chances of making connections if you are consistent.
Another smart strategy is to reach out to existing stakeholders and make new connections through them. Because you have already gained the trust of industry colleagues, these potential stakeholders are more likely than others to get involved.
To adapt a well-known expression, “It’s more than who you know. It’s who and what you get to know.”
3. Avoid Gray Areas and Keep Your Stakeholders In The Loop
It is not easy to manage multiple stakeholders simultaneously. It is more difficult to keep everyone informed about the progress of the project the more communication channels you have.
This can lead to a decrease in productivity if your team is unclear about what they should do. Investors may withdraw from the project if they aren’t provided with important information.
It is important to establish a system for communication early in order to avoid miscommunications and worse-case scenarios.
There are many ways to share important information, from scheduling interviews with stakeholders to sending status reports and emails to update status reports.
Communication is a priority. Your stakeholders will be more likely to invest in future projects if they are informed, supported and involved in the current project.
4. Establish a Review and Approval Process for Stakeholder Requests
We recommend that you establish a formal review process and approval process for minor or major requests.
Your stakeholders need a place to express their concerns and opinions as you move forward with a project. I