- Winning Support for Your Goals
Stress Management from Mind Tools
Reprinted with thanks to Rachel
Thompson, who has fifteen years experience
of helping major organizations and business
leaders to more effectively manage change,
and move their organizations forward.
She comments that: "Stakeholder
management is critical to the success of
every project in every organization I have
ever worked with. By engaging the right
people in the right way in your project,
you can make a big difference to its success...
and to your career."
As you become more successful in your career,
the work you do, actions you take, and the
projects you run, will affect more and more
people. The more people you affect, the
more likely it is that your actions will
impact people who have power and influence
over your projects. These people could be
strong supporters of your work, or they
could block it. This could obviously be
Stakeholder Management is an important
discipline that successful people use to
win support from others. It helps to ensure
them that their projects succeed where others
fail, and helps them to manage the intense
politics that can be associated with major
Stakeholder Analysis is the technique used
to identify the key people who have to be
won over. You then use Stakeholder Planning
to build the support that helps you succeed.
The benefits of using a stakeholder-based
approach are that:
- You can use the opinions of the most
powerful stakeholders to shape your projects
at an early stage. Not only does this
make it more likely that they will support
you, their input will usually improve
the quality of your project.
- Gaining support from powerful stakeholders
can help you to win more resources, making
it more likely that your projects will
- By communicating with stakeholders
early and frequently, you can ensure that
they fully understand what you are doing,
and that they understand the benefits
of your project. This means they can support
you actively when necessary.
- You can anticipate what people's reaction
to your project may be, and build into
your plan the actions that will win people's
The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is
to identify who your stakeholders are. The
next step is to work out their power, influence
and interest, so you know whom to focus
on. The final step is to develop a good
understanding of the most important stakeholders
so that you know how they are likely to
respond, and so that you can work out how
to win their support. You can record this
analysis on a stakeholder map.
After you have used this tool and created
a stakeholder map, you can then use the
stakeholder planning tool to plan how you
will communicate with each stakeholder.
The steps of Stakeholder Analysis are explained
1. Identifying Your Stakeholders:
The first step in your stakeholder analysis
is to brainstorm who your stakeholders are.
As part of this, think of all the people
who are affected by your work, who have
influence or power over it, or have an interest
in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion.
The table below shows some of the people
who might be stakeholders in your job or
in your projects:
in your job or projects
Remember that while stakeholders may be
both organizations and people, ultimately
you must communicate with people. Make sure
that you identify the correct individual
stakeholders within a stakeholder organization.
2. Prioritize Your Stakeholders:
You may now have a long list of people and
organizations that are affected by your
work. Some of these may have the power either
to block your efforts, or help to advance
them. Furthermore, some may be interested
in what you are doing, while others may
Map out your stakeholders using the Power/Interest
Grid shown below and classify them by their
power over your work and by their interest
in your work.
For example, your boss is likely to have
high power and influence over your projects,
as well as a high level of interest. Your
family may have high interest, but are unlikely
to have power over it.
Someone's position on the grid shows you
the actions you have to take with them:
- High power, interested people:
These are the people you must
fully engage, and make the greatest efforts
- High power, less interested
people: Put enough work in with
these people to keep them satisfied, but
not so much that they become bored with
- Low power, interested people:
Keep these people adequately
informed, and talk to them to ensure that
no major issues are arising. These people
can often be very helpful with the details
of your project.
- Low power, less interested
people: Again, monitor these
people, but do not bore them with excessive
3. Understanding your
You now need to know more about your key
stakeholders. You need to know how they
are likely to feel about, and react to,
your project. You also need to know how
best to engage them in your project, and
how best to communicate with them.
Key questions that can help you understand
your stakeholders are:
- What financial or emotional interest
do they have in the outcome of your work?
Is it positive or negative?
- What motivates them most of all?
- What information do they want from
- How do they want to receive information
from you? What is the best way of communicating
your message to them?
- What is their current opinion of your
work? Is it based on good information?
- Who generally influences their opinions,
and who influences their opinion of you?
- Do some of these influencers therefore
become important stakeholders in their
- If they are not likely to be positive,
what will win them around to support you?
- If you don't think you will be able
to win them around, how will you manage
- Who else might be influenced by their
opinions? Do these people become stakeholders
in their own right?
A very good way of answering these questions
is to talk to your stakeholders directly.
People are often quite open about their
views, and asking people's opinions is often
the first step in building a successful
relationship with them.
You can summarize the understanding you
have gained on the stakeholder map, so that
you can easily see which stakeholders are
expected to be blockers or critics, and
which stakeholders are likely to be advocates
and supporters or your project. A good way
of doing this is by color-coding: showing
advocates and supporters in green, blockers
and critics in red, and others who are neutral
The diagram above shows
an example of this. In this example, you
can see that a lot of effort needs to be
put into persuading Piers and Michael of
the benefits of the project. Janet and Amanda
also need to be managed well as powerful
Having conducted a Stakeholder Analysis
exercise, you will have a lot of the information
you need to plan how to best manage your
stakeholders. You will have identified the
stakeholders in your job and in your projects,
and will have marked out their positions
on a stakeholder map.
The next stage is to plan how you can win
their support. Stakeholder Planning is the
process by which you do this.
To carry out a Stakeholder Planning exercise,
start with a Stakeholder
Planning Sheet. Print this off and fill
it in appropriately. Alternatively, download
the sheet in Microsoft Excel format
and fill information out appropriately.
Using this template, work through the planning
exercise using the steps below:
- Update the Planning Sheet With
Information From the Power/Interest Grid:
Enter the stakeholder name, their influence
and interest in your job or project, and
your current assessment of where they
stand with respect to it. This information
comes straight from your Power/Interest
- Plan Your Approach to Stakeholder
The amount of time you should allocate
to Stakeholder Management depends on the
size and difficulty of your projects and
goals, the time you have available for
communication, and the amount of help
you need to achieve the results you want.
Think through the help you need, the amount
of time that will be taken to manage this,
and the time you will need for communication.
Help with the project could include sponsorship
of the project, advice and expert input,
reviews of material to increase quality,
- Think Through What You Want
From Each Stakeholder:
Next, work through your list of stakeholders
thinking through the levels of support
you want from them, and the roles you
would like them to play (if any). Think
through the actions you would like them
to perform. Write this information down
in the “Desired Support”,
“Desired Project Role” and
“Actions Desired” columns.
- Identify the Messages You need
Next, identify the messages that you need
to convey to your stakeholders to persuade
them to support you and engage with your
projects or goals. Typical messages will
show the benefits of what you are doing
to the person or organization, and will
focus on key performance drivers like
increasing profitability or delivering
- Identify Actions and Communications:
Finally, work out what you need to do
to win and manage the support of these
stakeholders. With the time and resource
you have available, identify how you will
manage the communication to, and the input
from, your stakeholders.
Focusing on the high-power/high-interest
stakeholders first, and the low-interest/low-power
stakeholders last, devise a practical plan
that communicates with people as effectively
as possible, providing the appropriate amount
of information in a way that neither under-,
Think through what you need to do to keep
your best supporters engaged and on-board.
Work out how to win over, or neutralize,
the opposition of your skeptics. Where you
need the active support of people who are
not currently interested in what you are
doing, think about how you can engage them
and raise their level of interest.
Also, consider how what you are doing will
affect your stakeholders. Where appropriate,
let people know as early as possible of
any difficult issues that may arise, and
discuss with them how you can minimize or
manage any impact.
It is often a good idea to manage
people’s expectations about
likely problems as early as possible.
This gives them time to think through
how to manage issues, and preserves
your reputation for reliability.
Once you have prepared your Stakeholder
Plan, all you need to do is to implement
it. As with all plans, it will be easier
to implement if you break it down into a
series of small, achievable steps, and put
these into effect one-by-one.
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