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Transforming Difficult Stakeholders into Partners


Business projects almost always create change, which can also bring about significant disruption, stress, and fear. That anxiety can translate into difficult project stakeholders—not to mention at-risk projects and unmet goals.

Knowing how to turn these problematic partners into committed collaborators is essential skill all project managers should master. Here’s how.

According to a report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide, “Trust is identified as particularly important in obtaining support for and participation in change efforts. Executives and employees see change differently: (a) senior managers typically see change as an opportunity for both the business and themselves; and (b) employees typically see change as disruptive, intrusive, and likely to involve loss. When managing change, it’s essential to identify the key issues, such as loss of turf, attachment, meaning, future, competency-based, and/or control.”

There is a strong correlation between stakeholder management and risk management. Without the buy-in and full commitment from stakeholders, projects, regardless of their success factors, are at high risk for failure. To increase the chance of successful project outcomes, here are seven considerations and actions that can be taken to reduce the chance of unwanted behavior.

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