Topic 2.8: Barriers to engagement
However much time you think you need for stakeholder engagement, double it, and it still won’t be enough.
Paul’s First Law of Project Management
It is good practice to identify and address these barriers as part of your engagement strategy.
Stakeholder engagement fails to achieve its full potential when stakeholders:
Are denied the opportunity to participate
Are presented with poorly defined issues or problems
Lack sufficient knowledge and information about the project
Are insufficiently empowered to be able to contribute effectively
Are placed in emotionally upsetting situations
Lack the skills to be able to contribute effectively
Conflict with (or perceive bias towards) other stakeholders
Have doubts about the capability, stability or availability of the project team, or
Feel their input is not valued and/or their time is being wasted.
Clearly define its scope
Have a transparent decision-making process
Focus on issues material to the project and/or its stakeholders
Create opportunities for dialogue
Be integral to project governance
Have a process appropriate to the stakeholders engaged
Be timely, flexible and responsive, and
Add value to both the project and its stakeholders.
In practice, this means the project manager must:
Get the right stakeholders to the table
Use consistent and appropriate messages
Avoid assigning intentions, beliefs or motives to others
Ask questions instead of stating untested assumptions!
Stay focused on the key issues
Listen and be respectful, allowing others to express their opinions completely
Make sure that opportunities for input are evenly shared
Preserve the right of others to disagree
Honour each party’s right to remain anonymous or “pass”
Use the information collected