Managing difficult stakeholders

Managing Difficult Stakeholders

Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have an interest in the outcome of a project, and they can significantly impact the success or failure of the project. Owing to the impact that the stakeholders can have on the project, it is essential to maintain a good relationship with stakeholders.

While most stakeholders are supportive and helpful, some stakeholders can be difficult to deal with and, since they play a crucial role in the success of the project, it’s important to identify difficult stakeholders.

Why Identify Difficult Stakeholders?

The progress or failure of any project often depends on identifying difficult stakeholders and mitigating the risk they pose to your project or business. Difficult stakeholders may have conflicting goals, demands, or interests that can create delays, misunderstandings, or even project failures. By identifying difficult stakeholders early on, you can proactively address their concerns, manage their expectations, and mitigate potential risks.

How to Identify Difficult Stakeholders?

Identifying difficult stakeholders can be challenging, but there are several ways to do so effectively. Here are some ways to identify difficult stakeholders:

  • Unresponsive or Indifferent Stakeholders – Stakeholders who fail to engage or provide the necessary information or feedback can be unresponsive or indifferent. This lack of engagement may be due to a lack of understanding or motivation, which can have a negative impact on team morale and project progress. It could also be due to a communication issue so it’s important you check whether they are receiving your information and in a timely manner.
  • Resistance to Change – Some stakeholders may prefer established methods and be resistant to changes in the project. This can create challenges for the project team as they attempt to implement new ideas or processes.
  • Unrealistic Expectations – Some stakeholders may present unrealistic expectations which may not be feasible for the team to fulfil. Also, these stakeholders are difficult to please, leading to frustration, dissatisfaction and an increased risk of project failure.
  • Negative or Aggressive Attitudes – Stakeholders who consistently present negative attitudes or confrontational behaviour can demoralize the project team. This can impede progress and lead to delays in project completion.
  • Micromanaging Stakeholders – Stakeholders who insist on micromanaging the project can make it difficult for the team to work independently. This can slow down progress and create unnecessary friction between stakeholders and the project team.

How to Deal with Difficult Stakeholders?

Much like identifying difficult stakeholders, dealing with them is equally or rather more challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to manage them effectively. Here are some ways to deal with difficult stakeholders:

  • Build Relationships: Building strong relationships with difficult stakeholders can help you establish trust and rapport. Take the time to listen to their concerns, show empathy, and find common ground.
  • Communicate Clearly: Clear communication is essential when dealing with tricky stakeholders. Use plain language, be specific and concise, and avoid using technical jargon.
  • Set Expectations: Setting clear expectations can help you manage stakeholder demands and reduce conflicts. Make sure stakeholders understand the project or business goals, timelines, and potential risks.
  • Use a Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) Tool: A stakeholder relationship management tool can help you track and manage stakeholder interactions effectively. These tools can help you organize stakeholder data, monitor communications, and identify potential issues.

How a stakeholder relationship management tool can help

Using a stakeholder relationship management (SRM) tool can be beneficial in dealing with tricky stakeholders. Here are some ways a stakeholder relationship management tool can help you manage difficult stakeholders:

  • Organize Stakeholder Data: A stakeholder relationship management tool can help you organize stakeholder data, including contact information, role, interests, and communication preferences.
  • Track Interactions: When you use a stakeholder relationship management (SRM) tool, you can track stakeholder interactions, including emails, phone calls, and meetings. This can help you identify potential issues and track stakeholder sentiment over time.
  • Monitor Communications: Using a stakeholder relationship management (SRM) tool, you can monitor communications with difficult stakeholders, including social media interactions. This can help you identify potential issues and respond proactively.
  • Identify Risks: A stakeholder relationship management (SRM) tool can help you identify potential risks associated with difficult stakeholders. This can help you develop strategies to mitigate those risks and prevent project or business failures.

Using a stakeholder relationship management tool (SRM) is a critical part of managing difficult stakeholders. Engagement Hub is the only software to include both online engagement tools and a built-in stakeholder relationship management (SRM) tool. View our quick video and find out more information here. 

With Engagement Hub, you can inform, collaborate and engage with your stakeholders and community 24/7 from anywhere – all in one software.

View our demo site to see the software in action or book a no-obligation virtual demo with one of our team here.

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