Active stakeholder management   

Product managers are experts at stakeholder management. To some of us it is the most natural thing, and for some it requires a bit more thought and planning. Regardless, there are real benefits to approaching stakeholder management like any other task – with a bit of planning and intent in the process. 

Effective stakeholder management is crucial for product managers to navigate stakeholder dynamics successfully, build relationships, secure support, leverage expertise, mitigate risks, and drive innovation. 

Identify your stakeholders 

We all know that we have a lot of stakeholders in product management in general. But take a look at each of your key tasks – for example devising product strategy, or planning a product launch – and determine (based on the task) who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder should be someone with either the power to influence the task, or with an interest in its successful completion – or both. Remember a stakeholder is not just a manager or decision maker, it could also be a project gatekeeper, sponsor, influencer, customer or user. 

Map your stakeholders 

Visualize your stakeholders on a power-interest matrix. It will save you time and pain in the long run. Here’s how to approach stakeholders based on their position: 

  • High power, highly interested players (manage closely): Aim to actively engage these individuals, dedicating significant efforts to meet their needs and expectations. These are often your core project team members, and it can be a red flag if you identify someone who belongs in this group, but is not involved in/allocated to the project or task.  
  • High power, less interested (keep satisfied): Invest enough effort to maintain their satisfaction without overwhelming them with your message. Top management and other leaders often belong in this group.   
  • Low power, highly interested (keep informed): Provide adequate information and communicate with them regularly to address any potential issues or suggestions for improvement. These are some of your best sources of feedback, and they will love you for allowing them to participate! 
  • Low power, less interested crowd (monitor with minimal effort): Avoid inundating these stakeholder groups with excessive communication and instead keep a watchful eye on changes in their levels of interest or influence. You may have really important stakeholders in this group, who will at one point be needed to drive your task forward – don’t forget them! 

Alignment is key 

The first step to successful stakeholder management, is to align with each stakeholder, on their position in that matrix. Do they agree on their position, when it comes to this particular objective or project? Have a discussion about their needs, expectations and influence levels in the project/task. From there, your interaction with each stakeholder should be charted and you are set up for product management successes! 

A great stakeholder manager is: 

  • Proactive in engaging others 
  • Able to set clear goals and expectations 
  • Establishing effective communication channels 
  • Prompt at addressing raised concerns 
  • Tailoring strategies for different stakeholder groups 
  • Able to celebrate stakeholder successes 

Contact us:

Tel: +45 42 83 28 29
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Where to find us:

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Rabalderstræde 7
4000 Roskilde