The Stakeholder Management Survey Results

We surveyed 115 project managers to better understand what it’s like to do stakeholder management on projects.
  • In this new research, you’ll learn:
  • Why people are motivated to invest time in engaging stakeholders
  • What prevents people from engaging stakeholders
  • What people wish they knew about stakeholder management.

Why Do You Do Stakeholder Management?

Stakeholder management is something we talk about a lot in project management, but what drives people to do it?

Especially as it is often a hard and thankless task, and one we don’t get much training in as project managers. Often it’s a few slides in a project management course encouraging us to complete a stakeholder register.

stakeholder management graphProject managers are motivated to do stakeholder management because it’s worth it to help your projects run smoothly. The respondents to the survey stated that they do it because:

  • It helps secure project resources (71%)
  • It improves the chances that your project will be seen as a success (69%)
  • It helps manage project risk (68%)
  • It gets the team to do what you need them to do on the project (63%)
  • It makes it easier to do the handover to the operational team at the end of the project as they know what is coming (43%)

Some people confessed to only doing it because the textbooks say you should (7%). There were also a whole host of other reasons including:

  • It helps me understand their requirements
  • It aligns requirements and expectations
  • It keeps me in control of my project
  • It helps me provide a quality product
  • It helps me align communication and accountability to individual stakeholders
  • It reduces political tension

And my favourites:

  • More smiles, fewer tears
  • My boss is making me do it.

Nothing like a bit of honesty in an anonymous survey!

What Prevents You From Engaging Stakeholders?

I’ve looked a bit more deeply into the results in this section and here are the definitive responses to that question.

  • I don’t have the time (48%)
  • I don’t have the templates (27%)
  • I don’t know what to do (23%)
  • Other (21%)

And this shocker:

  • I don’t have management support (45%)

survey results graphI did a couple of interviews to validate the survey responses and when I told one interviewee that people were responding that they didn’t have the time, he laughed. “You make time for what is important,” he said. “That’s just an excuse.”

I have to say that I agree. If you believe that stakeholders are crucial to the success of your project (and fair enough, you might not) then you need to put the effort in to bringing them along with you on this project.

Not having the templates to do stakeholder management is also another excuse, although if you ticked that option it might feel like I was trying to trick you as it was one of the answers on the questionnaire. Sorry about that – I didn’t expect the responses to be so high!

You can get templates in lots of places including many PM books, your colleagues, your PMO and I even have a set of done-for-you templates to get you started quickly.

Not having management support was the surprise response for me in this set of results. If that applies to you, you should include your manager in your stakeholder group and work on their understanding of why stakeholder engagement matters.

The Others in this category included a couple of people who said nothing was stopping them from doing it (awesome) and also responses like these:

  • Constraints on stakeholders’ time
  • Company culture
  • Not having access to the stakeholders (this came up a few times)
  • Immature organization
  • Stakeholders want other people to do their work for them (so a lack of understanding of their role and the fact they need to be involved at all)
  • Politics
  • No budget

What Do You Want To Learn About Stakeholder Management?

Given the mix of responses to earlier questions, from project managers who were obviously very experienced at juggling the office politics of stakeholder relationships through to those working in organizations where stakeholder management was somewhat immature as a concept, this question was interesting.

stakeholder management survey graphThe two top responses were managing expectations and managing conflicting priorities.

These seem to be huge issues for people because many project managers are working on multiple projects with multiple stakeholders and are juggling lots of relationships.

The good news is that I can help you with that.

Join The Stakeholder Management Masterclass

Stakeholder management masterclass title slideI’ve put together a Stakeholder Management Masterclass to help you create better working relationships with your stakeholders. It’s your compass to navigate the difficult terrain of stakeholder relationships.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you the formulae that would work in every situation, but as every stakeholder and company is different, this is an area where there are no universal cheat sheets!

What I can do is give you the tools, techniques and confidence to boost your stakeholder relationships at work so you can effectively decide which way on the map to go.

When you know what to do and how to do it, and how to select what’s going to work in each situation you have the confidence to engage with project stakeholders.

You gain authority and credibility. Your colleagues and stakeholders listen to you. People start to tell you things that affect your project without assuming you’ll find it out from somewhere else or don’t need to know. You have a clear engagement plan. And everything on the project starts coming together.

We’ll cover dealing with stakeholders who aren’t engaged, conflicting priorities and practical tools for making workplace relationships easier.

I like to think I’m known for my ability to keep it real! And I care about getting you results that will make a difference to how you build relationships at work. We’ll dig into what really works and there’s plenty of time for you to get your questions answered.

Here’s to your stakeholder success!

This article was originally published in 2017. Survey carried out in January 2017.