Every project has a number of stakeholders involved, both internal and external. And for the project to be a success, everyone has to work seamlessly together, no matter what their roles are. This may seem tricky especially with projects involving a large team, but that’s where project managers come in.
Project managers help ensure that everything is going according to plan, and that every stakeholder involved is on the same page. That’s why one of the most important things to master as a project manager is stakeholder communication.
Stakeholder communication refers to talking and collaborating with stakeholders of a project or business. Stakeholder communication involves all the groups of people who are affected by the project, or have a say in making decisions in relation to it.
That being said, it becomes clear that project management and stakeholder engagement go hand in hand. Effective communication with stakeholders is one of the keys to having a smooth-sailing project. And even if challenges come up along the way, having open and constant communication can help the team better solve any issue.
To help you better understand what stakeholder communication is, this article will first define who stakeholders are, why communicating with stakeholders is important, and what you need in order to effectively communicate with any type of stakeholder.
Who are your stakeholders?
Before knowing how to engage with stakeholders, you have to identify who they are first. By definition, stakeholders are groups or individuals who are invested in your project or business. More often than not, these stakeholders have different needs or expectations in relation to the project’s outcome.
Some examples of stakeholders include, but are not limited to:
- Management Committee
- Company employees
- Colleagues and team members
- The government
For each project, you usually have a set of key stakeholders, meaning the people who are involved in the planning and decision-making process for it. This varies per project, but no matter who your stakeholders are, it can get tricky to make each one of them happy. And if your stakeholders aren’t satisfied, chances are the project may have a lot of back and forth.
This highlights one reason for knowing who your stakeholders are – you can’t engage stakeholders unless you know what they’re looking for with the project.
You can go about this by first mapping out your stakeholder groups and planning how to best engage each of them. By prioritizing which stakeholders need the most communication, engagement, and consideration, you’ll be more efficient in keeping up with all of them.
Why is stakeholder communication so important?
If you’re wondering why engaging with stakeholders is important in the first place, let’s look at a few reasons.
1. Builds trust
Having constant, open communication with stakeholders is an example of an easy way to form a solid business relationship. That’s because communication is key if you want to know more about their perspectives and needs.
Furthermore, it shows stakeholders that you also care about them, and not just the interests of your company. When you’re open and transparent, it will be easier for stakeholders to trust you.
2. Promotes better decision-making
Prioritizing effective stakeholder communication means that you get to gather insights and ideas that can help your project move forward. By consistently communicating and aligning with your stakeholders, you will have an easier time making informed and universally beneficial decisions for the project. This is one of the keys in helping you and your team succeed.
3. Breeds innovation
Without communication, ideas won’t have a channel to flow. But by learning how to go about stakeholder communications, you create an environment where stakeholders are happy to contribute to the conversations regarding the project. This leads to collaboration, and ultimately, innovation for the company.
4. Prevents miscommunications
Miscommunications happen when members of a project aren’t on the same page. This further highlights the importance of learning how to communicate with stakeholders. Through effective stakeholder communication, you’ll be able to lessen mishaps or challenges as you complete your project.
This is especially important considering that some mistakes or moments of miscommunication may result in expenses that could have been avoided.
5. Encourages accountability
Constant stakeholder communication is one way to ensure that everyone is accountable for their work. When you have open lines of communication and regular channels for updates, keeping track of who has to do what becomes more hassle-free.
It’s also a good way to show each stakeholder and team member that their contributions are necessary for the project to succeed.
What are some stakeholder communication needs?
Now that you know some of the reasons why stakeholder communication is important, you can look into what you need to have to reach out and collaborate with stakeholders effectively.
For one, it’s important to know the right communication strategies when dealing with different stakeholders. That’s because one approach won’t necessarily work for everyone. For example, some stakeholders prefer having one-on-one alignments, while others are okay with receiving updates in a community or group space.
It’s also important to discern the right channels in which you can best communicate with your stakeholders.
How do you effectively communicate with stakeholders?
If you’re now wondering how you can go about communicating with your stakeholder, it’s helpful to recognize the importance of different channels. Whether you’re dealing with a client, a supplier or a contractor, you should consider leveraging different ways to reach them.
Being present in as many seamlessly integrated channels as possible will help your stakeholders better communicate with you. Here are some of the ways you can use different communication channels:
1. Leverage asynchronous video
There’s no denying that asynchronous work has gained popularity and acceptance in recent years. One way you can get in touch with different stakeholder groups is through asynchronous videos.
For example, during onboarding it would make a lot of sense to record walk-through videos to explain the various processes. You can use a platform like Loom to record your screen while explaining what’s being shown. Just make sure there’s opportunity and space for asking questions and clarification afterwards.
Asynchronous video can also be a more personal way of reaching out, because stakeholders see not just the brand you represent, but you yourself.
2. Create communities
One easy way to connect with numerous stakeholders at once is to create a community for them. A community gives you the opportunity to engage with your stakeholders, just like for example in a Reddit community or a Rock space.
Creating communities for your stakeholders is a convenient way to share salient information, updates, and discussion points with a group. Your stakeholders can also quickly raise any questions or concerns they may have. Furthermore, it encourages stakeholders to interact not only with you, but also with each other.
3. White-glove stakeholder communication
Certain stakeholders require a more personal and private form of communication. These are mostly stakeholders with very crucial roles in the project, or someone who is a driving force for the business. To address the needs of these stakeholders, you can set up a space on Rock where you can talk one on one.
The beauty of Rock, a holistic project management and communication tool, is that you can create as many spaces as you need, for free. They can be created for a group of stakeholders or for individual one-on-one interactions. By creating these spaces, you get to have a more personalized and structured communication.
Another great way to engage with stakeholders is to create a company newsletter. This gives you the opportunity to gather pieces of content that are relevant to your company and industry.
A newsletter can prove to be an engaging way of sending out company updates, project news, or any other information that’s relevant to your stakeholders. Depending on your preference, you can send out newsletters every week, bi-monthly, or once a month.
5. Social media
Communicating with stakeholders doesn’t have to be limited to work tools. You can also engage with them through social media. With over four billion social media users in the world, this is a channel you shouldn’t ignore.
Leveraging platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help you put out much more engaging content. This can result in a new way of getting closer to your stakeholders. Social media platforms also have in-app messaging, which helps stakeholders easily connect with you, so it pays to be responsive.
Just remember that while social media can be a source of fun content and interactions, it shouldn’t be your priority channel for stakeholder communication.
If you want to engage stakeholders while also providing added value, you may want to do webinars. This is effective if you want to get closer to certain stakeholder groups. Webinars are a great way to share knowledge, hear from relevant thought leaders, and learn from your stakeholders.
Organizing dedicated webinars will also help you better understand and interact with your stakeholders, which can prove to be advantageous while working on projects together.
These are just some of the channels that you can tap into when it comes to stakeholder communication. Aside from exploring these channels, you can also look for tools that can make communication with stakeholders more seamless and engaging, such as Rock.
How Rock helps you manage your stakeholder communication
As a holistic communication and project management tool, Rock provides everything you need to engage with stakeholders on one platform. To give you an idea, here are some ways Rock can help stakeholder communication, and project management in general, simple and easy.
1. Create community spaces
With Rock’s spaces, you won’t have to switch from channel to channel when it comes to creating communities. You can already do so on the platform itself. This also makes it easier for you to be more responsive to various stakeholders.
Additionally, if you’re already using Rock for your day-to-day tasks, you won’t have to learn a new tool for creating communities. It’s already on the same platform you’re using!
2. Create 1:1 spaces with key stakeholders
If you have certain stakeholders that need more in-depth collaboration, you can create a one on one space with them on Rock. This is great if you have to communicate with these stakeholders often, and if they’re heavily involved in your project.
Just like the spaces for communities, you won’t have to use another tool or platform for these one on one spaces – you can manage it on Rock.
3. Manage newsletter, social media and webinar projects
Rock isn’t just solely for communicating with stakeholders. It’s also a great way to manage all your tasks. With the Chat, Tasks, Topics, Notes, and Files mini-apps, you get a full-fledged communication and management tool. Whether you’re looking to create a newsletter or host a webinar, you can coordinate and manage all the work on one platform.
This way, Rock becomes both the channel for engaging with stakeholders and the channel for your team to collaborate on project’s deliverables and next steps.
Ultimately, Rock helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks as you go about your project. Through this one platform, you’ll get to stay engaged with your stakeholders, communicate with them consistently, and make collaborating on a project easier and more seamless for everyone involved.