April 2010

Identifying, engaging and managing stakeholders is a key success factor for change projects. 

 Stakeholder management is the process by which you identify your project’s key stakeholders, develop your communication and engagement approach and determine your strategy for maintaining their support for your project. 

Stakeholder Analysis is the first stage of this, where you identify and start to understand your most important stakeholders. 

 The benefits of understanding your stakeholders include: 

  •  You can use the opinions of the most influential stakeholders to shape your projects at an early stage.
  • They will most likely support you and their input can also improve the quality of your project.
  • Gaining support from influential stakeholders can assist you to obtain more resources if required.
  • Communicating with stakeholders early and often ensures that they fully understand what you are doing and understand the benefits of your project.
  • You can anticipate reaction to your project and take action to engage people’s support.


  Stakeholder Analysis – a straightforward approach 

  An effective approach is to brainstorm the potential stakeholder and then rank then on an Influence/Interest grid.   Someone’s position on the grid indicates the actions you have to take with them: 

  • High influence, interested people: these are the people you must fully engage and make the greatest efforts to inform and maintain their support for the project. 
  • High influence, less interested people: ensure they are informed and aware of what you are doing.  
  • Low influence, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising. These people often play a key role in the nuts and bolts of your project.  
  • Low influence, less interested people: again, monitor these people and keep them informed as required. 



    Some key questions to consider when ranking your stakeholders are:


  • What financial or emotional interest do they have in the outcome of the project?
  • Is it positive or negative?
  • What information do they want from you?
  • How do they want to receive information?
  • What is the best way of communicating your message to them?
  • What is their current opinion of the project?
  • Who influences their opinions?
  • Who else might be influenced by their opinions?
  • Do these people become stakeholders in their own right? 




istock_000000915694small.jpgIt’s what and how you say it.


 Feedback matters. And it’s not just an annual event. Regular, candid and honest feedback is a key way to help team members on your project to get better at what they do.

So, what’s the best feedback model, process or framework to use? Well, there’s hundreds to choose from. And I sometimes feel I’ve tried most of them in my research! Still, I always come back a simple and straightforward model.

Try these four steps next time you need to offer feedback.

Step 1:  Start by asking “What did you do well?”

(eg. “Kim, what do you feel you did well in your last sales call?”)


Starting on a positive note eases the conversation into feedback. Plus it identifies things the learner should keep doing.

Step 2: “What could you do differently?”

(eg. “Kim, what could you do differently if you did that sales call again?”)

This allows the learner to examine their own performance. It uses positive language – it focuses on improvement rather than criticism. Quite often the learner may identify all improvement opportunities without comment from you, or may identify opportunities that you haven’t seen.

Step 3: Then provide your feedback points by starting with “What could be done differently is….”

(eg. Thanks Kim for those points. What I think you could differently in the sales call is to ask more probing questions to fully understand the customer’s needs…”)

Again, this approach uses positive language and focuses on improvement rather than criticism. It gives you the opportunity to confirm the learner’s views and to identify areas of improvement that the learner hasn’t seen.

Step 4: Finally finish with “What you did well…”

(eg. “Kim, what you did well was to open your call with a concise overview and benefit statement, before asking the customer’s permission to continue. That worked very effectively”)

In this closing statement, you identify things the learner should keep doing. You can provide praise and finish on a high note. Effective feedback delivered in the right way and at the right time is an excellent tool to develop the performance of your team members. Keep it regular, concise and timely for best effect. The four step model works well in any context – work or personal.