Effective Stakeholder Management, Communication and Relationships

Effective Stakeholder Management, Communication and Relationships
26/4/23
Article by Natalie Galea

Throughout my career, particularly as a Project Manager, I have come to recognise the crucial importance of effective stakeholder management and communication for the success of any project.

I have over eight years of experience in landscape architectural design, project management and development. Throughout my career in these industries, I have been primarily responsible for planning, executing, coordinating, monitoring, managing, and closing out projects.

    “My experience has taught me that a successful project is not necessarily one without any challenges”.

Meeting project objectives comes from the ability of the project team to

  • Respond to challenges within a reasonable timeframe, and
  • Adapt to overcome hurdles and complexities of a project.

I love the projects I get to work on at Orion. There is never a dull moment, and every day is different. Currently, I am working on a 580-lot subdivision where I work closely with the consultant and client team. I am also working on parts of the approvals for an upcoming 300ha Major Project within the Aerotropolis which is very exciting.

I would like to emphasise the significance and worth that industry leaders, clients, colleagues, industry friends, and consultants bring to the table in stakeholder management. Conveying their importance when it comes to coordinating, managing, and delivering a successful project.

What is a stakeholder and how do they impact projects?

Stakeholders can be defined as individuals, groups, or organisations actively involved in a project or interested in its outcomes. They may be positively or negatively affected by the project’s objectives.

Effective management of stakeholders requires identifying and understanding their needs, expectations, and concerns, and developing appropriate strategies to address them.

Stakeholders can be broadly classified as internal or external, and it is important to recognise that each group has different requirements and expectations. Identifying and addressing these needs and expectations is critical to the success of any project.

Internal stakeholders – Orion project team

Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within a business, including but not limited to team members, managers, and directors.

At Orion, I collaborate closely with my team members in engineering design, surveying, water services and construction daily to offer input and add value to projects. I also work closely with Senior Leaders to learn from their valuable expertise and to keep them informed about the progress of the project.

Our shared goal is to successfully achieve project deliverables or outcomes, and to provide exceptional value to our client. Inevitably, unforeseen challenges arise during any project, and this is where we work collectively to find timely solutions that lead to their resolution.

External stakeholders

External stakeholders comprise of individuals, companies, or groups outside of Orion. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Consultants, in areas such as bushfire, ecological, contamination, geotechnical, arborists, flooding engineers, and heritage
  • Clients
  • Government agencies
  • Investors
  • Future landowners/purchasers
  • Members of the community

The principles of stakeholder management

Effective stakeholder management involves principles that are critical to the success of a project. By following these principles, project managers can effectively manage stakeholders, build positive relationships, and ensure project success.

Below are some of the most important principles of effective stakeholder management:


The importance of clear communication

Clear communication is crucial to stakeholder management, it involves sharing information with stakeholders in a clear and transparent manner, and keeping key stakeholder up to date on the project progress, risks and challenges.

Effective communication can help build trust and credibility with stakeholders, as well as manage their expectations and reduce the risk of misunderstandings. It is essential to the success of a project.

Here are some of the most important principles of good communication in project management to assist with delivering a successful project:

  1. Clear and concise messaging
    All communication should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It also needs to be written in plain English without using technical wording that can confuse stakeholders
  2. Use the right communication channels.
    Use the most appropriate communication channels based on the message and the stakeholders involved. For example, face-to-face meetings, email, video conferencing, and project management software are all effective communication channels. It’s important to recognise that stakeholders may have varied preferences, and as a project manager it is important to recognise this and adapt accordingly.
  3. Active listening
    Listening is an important aspect of effective communication. Project managers need to actively listen to stakeholder concerns and feedback, and address them in a timely and effective manner.
  4. Timely communication
    Communication should be timely and relevant. Stakeholders should receive updates and information when required, not when it is convenient for the project manager. Responsiveness is a critical attribute and one we take seriously at Orion.
  5. Document all communication
    All communication should be documented, including meeting minutes, emails, and other correspondence. This helps in maintaining a record of decisions, agreements, and commitments. This also assists to keep record of the history of a given project.
  6. Adjust communication style
    Project managers should adjust their communication style based on the stakeholder’s level of understanding, interest, and involvement in the project.
  7. Regular communication
    Regular communication is essential to building trust and maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders. This helps in keeping stakeholders engaged and supportive of the project. I would typically issue weekly or fortnightly project updates to my clients and liaise with team members and consultants on a regular basis.

And... maybe skip the awkward Covid zoom communication - like when I muted a meeting I was on and not myself!

I was new to a project team for a large project and was waiting to be let into the meeting when my 2 year old daughter decided to pick up my rabbit up by its ears. I starting yelling out for her to leave him, in the meantime the whole team heard and watched this unfold. By far one of my most embarrassing moments, but it turned out to be a good way to break the ice with a new team that I now work closely with.

The result of poor stakeholder management

Personally, I have worked on a project that was delayed due to unforeseen challenges presented by Council. Considering the time that would have been needed to resolve the issues, we decided to remove the impacted lots from the main project so we could get approvals completed in a timely manner for the client.

It ended up taking about 14 months to get approval on a small development. During this project, it was a challenge to manage client and council expectations. In the end, we came up with a solution and got the Development Approval signed off.

Poor stakeholder management and communication can have significant negative consequences on the management and delivery of projects. It can lead to the following:

In conclusion, stakeholder management and good communication are essential components of any successful project. They involve identifying and understanding the needs and expectations of stakeholders and developing strategies to overcome project complexities. All of which are essential to ensure projects are delivered in the desired timeframe and at a reasonable cost.

Effective stakeholder management and communication can help build strong relationships, identify opportunities and risks, and manage expectations, while poor stakeholder management and communication can lead to delays in approvals and the overall program, and result in reputational damage.

Effective Stakeholder Management, Communication and Relationships
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