A Fresh Look at Stakeholder Management: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

Stakeholder Management: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid
Value Addition – A Fresh Look at Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is not something new and can be traced back up to 19301.

The revision of ISO 9001: 2015 stresses that considering relevant expectations and requirements of stakeholders is a key element to success. This approach goes further than the mere check of customer requirements.

Who is a stakeholder?

According to ISO 9000:2015, chapter 3.2.3, a stakeholder is an interested party. This can be a person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity.

The complexity of implementing this approach depends on type of the project or organization. A simple project in an organization meant to improve efficiency has less demanding and challenging stakeholders than building or public infrastructure-related projects, where probably the consent of the folk (people referendum) is an issue. Global companies with suppliers from all over the world have more sustainability and image issues than local companies.

Worth mentioning about ISO 9001 is that requirement addresses only relevant stakeholders (not potential ones), with relevant requirements to the quality management system or organization. This makes sense in that we have to consider the chances and risks coming along with this and act accordingly to meet company goals.

Just as in the same way the customer defines quality2, it is important to also note that requirements and expectations are defined by the stakeholders; it is not just based on assumptions or “copy paste” from other companies or projects. Then we decide which ones are relevant.

These expectations, as well as the teams or individuals involved do change from time to time, therefore monitoring of the requirements is essential. The evidence of actions taken out of this review is logically necessary.

 

This blog will state 7 points where we need a paradigm change in „stakeholder management”

From… To…
 

1.   Stakeholder management or paper evidence of listing potential stakeholders which has no added value.

 

What really brings sustainability and value is relationship management. Building trust with the few right people / parties is the key. In doing so, we avoid nurturing relationships with no win-wins.
2.   Serving only stakeholders at the cost of forgetting own goals… Keeping the end in mind: project managers and responsible persons for stakeholders should not forget their requirements and expectations as well.

It takes courage to set time and be offline for some hours or a day so that things get done.

If meeting stakeholders’ expectations adds no value to the project or organization, why then should we try fulfilling them?

3.   When defining internal stakeholders, we consider employees, managers and owners separately. What if their expectations and requirements do not go hand in hand with company strategies and goals? A company consists of all the three parties hence company expectations should not be neglected.

The internal stakeholders come together to identify their requirements as a team and monitor the external requirements

4.   Managing stakeholders… Managing their requirements and expectations, not stakeholders themselves. This means also not giving empty promises. Otherwise we will end up always reacting and not being proactive.

Managing expectations and requirements of stakeholders means first understanding my roles and objectives as project manager or head of organization, then check relevant requirements of stakeholders that align, and those that have conflict of interest and seek dialog based on the outcome. Apart from that, there are always individuals behind the group of stakeholders. People cannot be managed. Leadership makes more sense.

5.   “Dear stakeholder, I have identified you as relevant but I do not have time for you” Set time to meet and learn to understand relevant expectations of each relevant party.
6.   Assuming to know all requirements and expectations of stakeholders Seeking dialog with relevant stakeholders rather than documenting what we assume. Giving feedback to and getting feedback from stakeholders when necessary makes this an integrated process.
7.   That’s the duty of the manager… As with quality2 stakeholder management cannot be one person’s job. Everyone has a responsibility to identify and manage the needs and expectations of relevant stakeholders at his/her level with relevant requirements. This requires understanding one’s own expectations and goals of the project, process or company.

What about the emotional bank account?

This is managing and clarifying expectations and includes the awareness that we can as well make withdrawals, and at the end the balance matters, not only to one side of the account, but both. To achieve a well-balanced account, we need to constantly seek dialog and set review dates or meetings with colleagues and time together with family.

To conclude:

Managing requirements and expectations of stakeholders is more of common sense, requires the natural ability to seek dialog and cultivate the right relationships, rather than an academic subject or science.

It is about adding value. This requires conversations and not assumptions. It is about stakeholder engagement and timely involvement in a process or project, not “managing the parties in a table well kept”.

If you would contrast your stakeholder management model with that of your identified stakeholder, will the listed expectations be reflected?

1 https://www.sustainet.com/the-history-of-stakeholder-management/
2Value addition blog #1:https://www.valueaddition.de/en/paradigm-change-in-quality-management-adding-value-with-qm-starts-in-the-mind/

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3 thoughts on “A Fresh Look at Stakeholder Management: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Reads well. The blog summarized it well “stakeholder engagement is about conversation and not assumption”.

  2. Good read !

    It’s vital for the organization to use a balanced approach to ensure that the needs of the stakeholders are met as well as the organization’s goals and objectives are achieved.

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