Any individual, group, or entity with an interest in a business and the implications of its activities is referred to as a stakeholder of that business. Employees, consumers, investors, providers, localities, and government bodies are all examples of stakeholders. Diverse stakeholders have different priorities, and companies frequently have to make trade-offs in order to please everyone. As a project manager, you must give direction and leadership, as well as serve as a link between stakeholder expectations and your group’s ability to deliver them. While alignment of stakeholders is ideal, it is not always the case.

But before we get to know how to deal with difficult stakeholders, we should first determine who is important, and who is less important. Who has the highest priority and who has less?  Being able to successfully prioritise stakeholders can help to build the company and can keep everyone happy.

Numerous companies struggle to maintain opposing stakeholder interests. Almost all of the prioritising will be determined by a business’s phase. Consumers and employees, in particular, are more likely to be the most important stakeholders of a startup or early-stage firm. Investor and financial stakeholders are likely to be front and centre if the business is established and traded publicly.

After being able to identify your priority, then you can begin to target your business strategy in regards to how to deal with all your stakeholders. And how you can identify who is difficult and who is less challenging to support..  

What are the ways to handle difficult stakeholders?

  1. Listen and comprehend – Make an attempt to comprehend their viewpoint. If what they’re saying is aggravating you, consider whether their requirements are in line with the project’s goals. Is it just that they want things done differently? Make an effort to discover some common ground.
  1. Do not let your emotions get ahead of you – Emotions are sometimes provoked, and buttons are pressed. When this occurs, attempt writing down your ideas rather than responding.
  1. Pinpoint their motivation – The key to managing stakeholders is to understand the rationale behind their opposition. This will allow you to find compromises, come up with a win-win solution, and complete the project.

Generally, everyone is on the same journey, but people like to take different roads to get there.  Map it out, draw it and talk about it and write it up. Regular monitoring and conversations can help keep everyone on the same journey together.