How to manage stakeholders amidst the pandemic

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is a crucial part of running a business. One major change seen in businesses amidst the pandemic is that people are required to engage virtually rather than face-to-face. This has posed a challenge to several project managers. A recent study unveils that in-person meetings are much more effective than virtual meetings. However, the global pandemic situation has made remote work the new normal in various organizations.  

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What is stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholders are individuals having interests in the operations of a business. They might be external or internal in nature. As a result, such individuals play a vital role in the survival of businesses. It is important for project managers to ensure that stakeholders are always happy with the progress of the project. Therefore, project management professionals need to devise a robust system for effective communication.

What is the need for stakeholder engagement?

Engaging with stakeholders posed quite a challenge for project management professionals during the pandemic.  Project managers were required to find the most suitable medium of communication. Also, professionals had to ensure that a perfect digital communication system is in place for the dissemination of information.

It is not feasible to communicate with every stakeholder of an organization. Other functions of the project manager would be disrupted while engaging in this process. As a result, PMP Training is required to implement a few effective strategies.

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Strategies to manage stakeholders:

When managing stakeholders, a project manager should make few strategies like –

  • Selection of stakeholders:

This is one of the vital steps for project managers. Choosing those stakeholders who have directly influence the project is necessary. This helps in prioritizing individuals who can greatly impact the end results of the project.

  • Establish a communication system:

The pandemic has necessitated project professionals to rely on digital means of communication. Project managers need to carefully choose a mode of communication. The chosen mode shall not attract any disruptions during the meeting.

  • Set a schedule:

As project managers, individuals need to constantly host meetings with different stakeholders. As a result, it is necessary to create a schedule for communicating with stakeholders. This strategy helps project managers to productively communicate with all the important stakeholders during the pandemic.

  • Ask for feedback:

While hosting meetings, it is essential to understand the interests of stakeholders. Asking for feedback helps project managers to refine their approach to such stakeholders. 

These strategies help in effectively managing stakeholders even amidst the pandemic. Project managers can make use of various applications to host meetings digitally. The global pandemic has offered an opportunity for several developers to come up with apps for communicating virtually. Also, project managers need to ensure that the privacy aspects of virtual meetings are considered. On completing the virtual meet, project managers need to ensure that it was fruitful. This can be analysed by asking the following questions.

  • Were the key points as set in agenda discussed?
  • Were the stakeholders able to understand?
  • Was the next course of action planned?
  • Were the chosen means of communication effective?
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By answering these questions project managers can interpret the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement. Constructively managing stakeholders assists project managers in handling complex projects at ease.

What are the advantages of stakeholder management?

Businesses need to be constantly aware of who can benefit the organization in the future. Thus, project managers are accountable for building healthy relationships with stakeholders. Through stakeholder management, business and project managers reap the following benefits.

  1. Gain knowledge:

Project management professionals gain insights related to a project. Stakeholders raise certain issues based on their perspective of the project. Some of these risks can poses as threats, while some can be opportunities. Capitalizing on these concerns assists in gaining a competitive advantage over others in the industry.

  • Take reasonable decisions:

Managing stakeholders helps project managers to make reasonable decisions. Also, the knowledge gained through stakeholder relations helps in reinforcing project-related decisions. This way, problems arising out of projects can be approached differently. Thus, stakeholders assist in making informed decisions.

  • Build trust:

A business survives on the strength of relationships between personnel. Effectively managing stakeholders creates long-lasting relationships. This also increases the credibility of the organization among other stakeholders. Building trust amongst stakeholders directly impacts the reputation of organizations.

  • Easily manage risks:
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Through stakeholder management, project managers can manage risks effectively. External stakeholders assist in foreseeing potential risks. This in turn helps project managers to assess its impact and take appropriate action. Also, organizations benefit from performing their functions smoothly without any disturbances.

  • Transparency:

Communicating effectively with stakeholders helps in maintaining transparency. Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, and communities are fully aware of the operations of the business through stakeholder management. Following up with such individuals further helps in maintaining the image of the organization.

  • Enhanced reputation:

Stakeholders tend to have a talk about business when they participate in formal events. As a result, project managers need to constantly meet stakeholder expectations. This enhances the reputation of project managers as well as the organization.

  • Lesser unexpected situations:

Managing stakeholders effectively reduces the surprise elements from a stakeholder. This is done through profiling of every stakeholder closely associated with projects. As a result, project managers can easily predict the needs of stakeholders and work towards fulfilling them.

Conclusion:

Stakeholder management is crucial for handling projects. During every phase of the project, stakeholders play a vital role. In the planning phase, stakeholders involved can be the top management. During initiating and executing phase suppliers act as stakeholders. Team members pose as stakeholders during the monitoring and control phase of the project. On completion of the project clients, top management, and end-users become the stakeholders. Thus, project managers are compelled to always engage with stakeholders.

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It is evident that project managers need to master the art of stakeholder management. PMP Certification helps in gaining an in-depth understanding of managing stakeholders. On meeting the eligibility criteria of education and experience requirements, project managers are required to undergo PMP Certification Training. Formal education on project management helps individuals to survive and sustain themselves in the market.