Project Management: The Three Best Practices for Managing Key Project Stakeholders | Matt Corroboy | Skillshare

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Project Management: The Three Best Practices for Managing Key Project Stakeholders

teacher avatar Matt Corroboy, Projects, leadership, life and mindset.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Understanding Key Stakeholders


    • 3.

      Analyzing Key Stakeholders


    • 4.

      Engaging & Managing Stakeholders


    • 5.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Take your project management skills to the next level with software projects director Matt Corroboy! 

What sets a good project manager apart from a great one? It really boils down to great communication and engagement with key project stakeholders. Join Matt as he walks us through how to better understand, analyze, and manage stakeholders to make your project as successful as possible. 

Together, with Matt, you’ll learn how to: 

  • Better align with key project stakeholders by better understanding them and their needs
  • Analyze key project stakeholders to understand their individual needs 
  • Engage and managing stakeholders for ultimate project success

No matter how big your project is, this class will help you optimize your key project stakeholder relationships from inception to completion. 


Matt’s class is designed for project managers of all levels, but all students are welcome to participate and enjoy. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Matt Corroboy

Projects, leadership, life and mindset.


Hello, I'm Matt Corroboy,

I'm a Software Projects Director in the UK working in the life sciences industry at Waters Corporation and spend my time managing a crack team of amazing project and programme managers spread across the globe.  We fight against the underworld and build amazing software and system solutions that make a difference to the world.  We're very proud of what we do.

In my spare time I write and coach on Project Management, Leadership and mindset.  I'm also author of the greatest book you've never read: 'Life Unlocked', which is aimed at people wanting to get their mind and body into the top 1%.  

It's all a journey... you may as well have fun along the way.

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1. Introduction: It's all about the behaviors that really separate the average project manager from the great. Today's lesson, we're going to focus on stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management, and how important it is to build those relationships. How to look at how we can understand our stakeholders, how we can do the analysis versus them, and where we can manage them moving forward in order to bring the most success possible for the project that you're running. Hi, I'm Matt Corroboy and I'm a Software Projects Director in the life sciences industry. Now, I've been a project manager for the last 20 years or so, and the last 10 of those has been been a team of project and program managers. I've learned the hard way. I've learned from those projects that I really struggled on early on. Mainly because I focused too much on the tasks in front rows and not on engaging with stakeholders. I spent most of my time as a result dealing with disgruntled stakeholders and dealing with politics when really we should all be aligned. What I've discovered from project to project is that by aligning, by collaborating and building strong relationships with stakeholders, we can be greater than the sum of the parts. I'm passionate as a result of all of this, about managing stakeholders because I truly believe that by doing so, by analyzing and managing them and communicating well with stakeholders, that you're going to get the best out of your project. Now, once I flipped that switch personally, I was able to deliver projects better. It was a happier environment. People enjoyed working on projects much better because there was that alignment, because people had a voice, because you could work together and share in the project challenges. That's why I think it's vital that we talk about this today and that you take some of the tips and hints that I've had through my career, and hopefully apply them to your own projects. At the end of this class, I want you to walk away with a deeper understanding of the stakeholders within your own projects. I want you to have a deeper appreciation of what it takes to engage and manage those stakeholders, and also do the analysis on them, so you know actually where you should be spending your time in order to get the most value out of those engagements. I'm really excited today for you to be taking this class because I think this is fundamental. Without those relationships, we don't have long-standing collaboration with those people that we work with. I'd like you to go through the exercises and reflect on your own projects. Pause and think about how you might incorporate them in your own work in order to improve that stakeholder engagement you've got today. By all means, share any ideas or any incorporations that you've got in the project gallery. If you've got any questions, then please ask them too in the discussion boards. Let's go on with the class. 2. Understanding Key Stakeholders : It's massively important to understand the stakeholders within your project. That's primarily because of who they are. They are a stakeholder. They have a stake, an interest in what you're trying to achieve. Now, that could be a stakeholder's part of the project itself actually doing the work or they could be someone that's relatively distant to what's happening day-to-day. But either way they have a stake or an interest in your project, and that interest is for a valid reason. Ignore them at your peril, otherwise, you'll spend all your time dealing with disgruntled stakeholders who are frustrated about not being engaged into what you're doing. First off, stakeholders are actually part of the team. A lot of cases, they're actually doing the work within the project. They're not just a stakeholder, they're actually a team member. It really pays if you actually think about it in this way, because then you're going to be aligning with them on the work much better. You going to listen to them much clear and that's going to help you moving forward. As a result is vital to know who they are, what part they're going to play, because together, that's the only way you can make this project a winning one. This then leads on to who needs what and when. Understanding your stakeholders to the right level will allow us to know where to focus. We've got some stakeholders that might be relatively passive and just want to be engaged only a little bit. Alternatively, you can have stakeholders that need really close engagement. Only by understanding the stakeholders and doing the analysis where we discover who that is, so we know where specifically we should be focusing our time. It's also really important to always be assessing your stakeholders. Doing stakeholder analysis and management is not a onetime only event. Stakeholder change as do their opinions and beliefs through the course of the project. Always be asking for feedback, adjusting your stakeholder maps in your assessment, and moving on from there. So in the following lessons, I'm going to delve into the detail of what it means to analyze, manage, and engage your stakeholders. Only by doing that, will you bring extra success to your project. 3. Analyzing Key Stakeholders : Analyzing stakeholders isn't just about creating a list of the people who were associated with the project and then leaving it that, may be sending them a report once a week. It's a lot more detailed. The reasons why is because our stakeholders often have different interests and maybe even different influences in the project itself. It's really important to pause and reflect on what their interests are in the project so that you can help cater for those better. By doing this analysis, you understand where the focus should be versus other stakeholders. It might also help you identify which stakeholder needs special measures. Maybe they need to be engaged in the project a lot closer than other people in order to make sure that their influence is a positive one as opposed to a negative one. Give this part your focus and you'll reap the rewards moving forward, you'll have more engaged stakeholders. There will be better alignment and there will often be help when you need it. There are two key stages to analyzing stakeholders on your project. The first is starting with a list, with the second part being doing that analysis piece for them. Where does the list come from? Now that can come from previous projects, it could come from even an old chart for your business that you're operating in. But these are all good inputs, but starting with that list is key. A tip that I've got in this is to pretend like your project is an onion. You start with a core team in the middle and you start moving layer by layer towards the outside of that onion, so that deals with stakeholders that maybe aren't in the middle of the project but are still connected to it some way. You then move a bit further out to other areas of the business or the stakeholder groups, but maybe they're a little bit more distant and then you can move outside of that project's [inaudible] , where maybe you're dealing with governing bodies or committees or maybe legal hearings that are related to your project. Knowing who the stakeholders are, knowing what they're looking for in your project, how to engage with them is going to be key to the success. Now that we've gotten the list, we can actually delve into doing the analysis on the stakeholders themselves and a very simple way of doing that is in the four-box model. What I've got here is a simple chart which shows the level of interests to the stakeholders versus the influence that they may have in the project and we do a list of stakeholders. The best thing to do now is to think about where they might sit on that chart. I'll do a few examples here. We'll put a few stakeholders that have got various different levels of interests. We've got someone here that's got low interest and low influence and we've got someone up here that's high interest, high influence, and maybe we've got a couple of people who are in that bracket. What this really tells us when we take a look at this is depending on which quadrant they sit in, how we might want to engage with them as individuals in the project or as groups within the project. We might want to label this section here that we're going to manage these closely. The ones that have got low interest but high influence, we might say that we want to keep them satisfied. For the people that have high interest but are actually probably low influence, then that's keeping them informed. That leaves us with this bottom group here, which are low interest and low influence, albeit still a stakeholder, that we want to make sure that we monitor them and understand whether they're getting what they need from the course of the project. We've got them into these groups now which will give us some indication of what we might want to do later when we do the communication plan, an engagement piece. A part that often gets missed when we do these type of charts is that level of influence. Could that level of influence actually be positive or negative? Sometimes this is often termed as their power within the project and not all stakeholders are just providing a positive influence. You can have some, which if not handled and managed correctly, can cause negative impact on the project itself. A word of warning here, what I don't want you to do is take the risk of labeling a chart that then ends up in the stakeholders hands. You might want to put a flag or a tag on there or something that indicates that they might need special measures because of that influence. In this instance, we're just going to use green and red stars. We've got a couple of stakeholders in this top group here that we're going to flag as green, and then we're going to find this one here as red. This is great. Now we've got our first pass of taking some of those stakeholders and putting them onto some form of chart. We can now look at different ways that maybe we're going to keep people satisfied or how are we going to manage closely? We might want to group some of these stakeholders together so that we can figure out the most efficient way of communicating with them. Now for the stakeholders where we might have a red flag or a red star against them, that's where we need to think carefully about what those special measures may be. I've worked on projects where we've had to have project managers have specific one-to-ones with stakeholders and treat them really, really closely. Maybe even speak to them every day just to make sure that they're comfortable with what's going on. Now, you might disagree with that. You might think that that's not really good just because I've got a bad stakeholder in my project, I want to spend more time with them. That's not right. But actually this is all about the success of the project. If you don't do that, the overall success could be jeopardized. Do the analysis, identify the stakeholders, put measures in place, and then move forward successfully from there. What we do now is move into, how are we going to manage these people moving forward? What are they looking for? How are we actually going to communicate and engage with them taking the information we've got here? 4. Engaging & Managing Stakeholders: In this next section, I'm going to talk about engaging and managing stakeholders. We talked about how important it is to stay close to them in the introduction, how it's vital that they're collaborating on the project and aligned on the overall goals. I want you to think about this as we go through this next section. If you treat the stakeholders well, if you engage with them, then you'll see the successes as we go through it. As well as doing your own analysis and engagement now you might have to do quite an uncommon thing, which is ask them for their own feedback on how the projects are currently being run. Let's get into some specific tactics on how to engage and manage those stakeholders through the course of the project. After doing the analysis where we often end up with is a communication plan and this might be a formal document or artifact that you have to create in the project environment that you're actually in. Either way, it's a really important stage of taking the analysis that you done on the stakeholders and starting to map out how you're actually going to communicate with them. A really simple way of doing that is having a simple table where you've got the who column where you're going to list those stakeholders. Then you're going to look at the what, where, why, when, and how. What are you going to communicate? Where are they going to get that information? Why do they actually want it? When are you going to deliver it? What's the media that that's going to arrive in? Think about this for each stakeholder. For instance, what we've got here, we've got somebody that wants a summary of the project spend. They're going to get that in the project report that we're going to create. They're in charge of the budget. That's why they're interested. They're going to want to see that information maybe every two weeks. We're going to deliver that in their inbox in the form of an e-mail. That might be totally different from another stakeholder that wants to stay aligned because there are actually a resource manager. They're the ones that got the resources on the project that you're running. Maybe once a month, you can have a face-to-face stakeholder meeting. That's the way you're going to engage with our stakeholders in the right way. You're going to start to see patterns. You're going to see areas where certain stakeholders are after the same information as others and we can start to group that information together to make it a lot more efficient. We're also going to deal with those people at that negative influence on the project or that potential negative influence. We're going to look about the specifics of what we need to arrange and put in place when we do this. Now, be warned here, what mostly happens in projects in my experience of creating communication plans is that you create this in the first instance with a load of energy and excitement. You've done the analysis, you've mapped out how you're going to communicate with them. Then that tails off over time. As you go through the course of the project, check that you're doing the right things. Also ask for feedback in this to make sure that the media that you're sending, the interests that they've got still remains the same and you can adjust the communication plan as you go. Once again, doing this may seem like overkill, but if you do this right, then it'll pay off in dividends through the course of the project. You won't be dealing with those disgruntled stakeholders or that political flare-up. You had done the work, you had stayed on top of it, and you've reaped the rewards from those stakeholders. That moves us on to the project kickoff. Now in my experience, this is the stage of a project where things can start to go wrong, right at the very beginning. If we don't engage with our stakeholders, if we don't bring them into the room, if we don't share the vision and the goals, and even ask them for their own feedback on whether this project is likely to be successful. What worries them about it, what even the risks might be and how they want to be engaged in that opening setup. Then you're probably on the back front, from that point forward. If you're just about to start a project, think about that kickoff meeting. Think about who needs to be in the room. If you've done some of that stakeholder analysis, then you'll know who should be there, who needs to be engaged closely and make sure that they're there to help pull that picture together of what the project is going to look like. Let's talk about formal reporting. Now this is something that's bread and butter for project management. That formal report is something that you need to think carefully about. If you've done that analysis with those stakeholders, if you know what they're looking for in your report, then make sure that that's in there. But in its most simplest form, create in a management report, a formal report should capture some fairly simple things. It should capture what work has been done, what work is happening next. Take a step back. What does the entire road look like in the context of what you're trying to do. Maybe you are going to talk about some risks that are going on. Maybe there's an ask for those that are reading that document. But above all else, it needs to be clear and concise. These are quite fundamental things. A 5,000 page report delivered to a stakeholder in their inbox among several 100 other reports isn't going to get read. Think carefully about what the three takeaways are going to be for your reporting and make sure that they resonate in everything you send down. Now let's talk about continuous realignment on expectations. Just because people were there at the beginning in the project kickoff or in those early communications doesn't mean they still understand what's going on and why we're doing this. Often in the workplace, people are very busy and they lose track of the importance of what might be taking place. It doesn't harm anyone to bring people together again periodically to realign on the expectations and goals for the projects and get that feedback whilst everyone is in a room. Now some members in that room might think that this is overkill, that you've overdone it. Of course everyone understands what's happening. But for those stakeholders that may be a little bit more distant, this might be vital and it gives them the opportunity to engage and it's something you're not going to regret. This leads on to asking for feedback. That's both in a formal setting and an informal setting for the project. Maybe you've got a project meeting or an all hands meeting or even one of those semi kickoff meetings. Ask for feedback in those. But also informally too, passing someone in the corridor, maybe dropping someone online or sending them an e-mail asking those stakeholders what they think of the project. Maybe what they think needs to change, whether they're getting the right level information. Whether they still believe that the goals are accurate for what we need to do. For those people that we said we're going to put special measures in place, then double down on this, spend even extra time with them asking for that feedback. Again, you don't want any blind spots in your project where maybe you think that they're happy because again, you did that work up front, but actually they've started to tail off now I'm feeling a little bit disgruntled. Make sure you give the time in asking for that feedback from those specific individuals. The next tip is that it's better to overcommunicate on key issues. We've all been there. We've been stood in front of the audience and given a masterful speech talking about the highs and lows and the critical areas. But actually is everyone listening in that room? Most people have got lots of things going on in their head and even when you send them media, whether it's in their inbox or it might be a project report of some degree. Are they really reading those key points. Overcommunicate where it needs to be. This is particularly important for where there's been changes in a plan or maybe there's an escalation. Make sure you emphasize it and then re-emphasize it again and again and again. For me, in my experience, that's the only real way that you get people to really understand what's going on, especially if you want a specific piece of information to resonate with them. Now let's talk about meetings, both virtual and real. When we're bringing people together, it's important to know that you're not the only voice in the room, the one doing all the talking. You've taken the time to bring people together so let's get some value out of it, as well as communicating things like project status. It's really important too think carefully about what the purpose of that meeting is. Set clear agendas for the stakeholders so they know what they're coming into. Have clear outcomes and actions that people may need to take. Recap previous actions, keep it clear and concise. If it finishes early, then wrap it up. I think it's really important when we talk about meetings that we stick to control, stick to the discipline around them. But don't be the one doing all the talking, let others do that for you. Again, you'll get much more benefit of building those collaborative teams by doing so. As you can see from some of these, that managing projects and being successful isn't just about doing the tactics. It's about the soft skills. It's about building those relationships with stakeholders, about engage with them, and keeping that engagement up through the course of the project. Now what I want you to do is think about the project environment that you're operating in today. Which of these tips and tactics that we've gone through are going to potentially give you more value, which you're not doing today that you think you might want to adopt? Which tactics maybe you're doing today that have not talked about and maybe you'd want to push them to one side and not do them again? But think about what we've gone through. Think about the value that you can take from it and start applying it to your project work today. 5. Final Thoughts: Thanks for taking part in the class today. Remember, no matter how big or small your project is, there'll always be stakeholders. They're your colleagues, they're your friends, they're your management, they're the people that are funding your project. It's so vital that you stay in touch with them, engage with them, and manage them correctly. That will bring great success for your project moving forward. What I want you to do now is share your lessons learned as you go through this in the Project Gallery. If you've got any specific questions that might have come up as we've gone through this, then ask them in the discussion board. But thank you again for listening today and I'll see you soon.