Keeping everyone in the loop: Managing stakeholder communication

When managing a project, you are responsible for knowing exactly what's going on when. Everyone involved may also want to know what's going on and how it affects them, so instead of constantly answering questions and queries reactively, it's important to have a proactive communication strategy with all the stakeholders involved. 

Learning objective: Identify the elements of effective stakeholder communication

Which of the following statements are true about stakeholder communication?

Managing effective stakeholder relationships

As a project manager, you are the middle man between your team and the project stakeholders and one of the most crucial parts of managing a project is to ensure that both parties are kept up to date with progress and changes. In an ideal scenario, things will go according to plan and your role will simply be to communicate updates, but more often than not, crises arise – which is when effective, efficient communication is critical. How you communicate, especially during a crisis situation, may determine the outcome of a project and change the end-result, which is why you need to carefully consider various aspects of stakeholder communication. Below are some of the elements of stakeholder communication to take into account:

  • Define exactly who your stakeholders are (who needs to know what)
  • Decide on your channels of communication (this may differ for the different groups of stakeholders)
  • Outline the frequency and level of detail for routine communication (to ensure stakeholders know what information to expect when)
  • Establish effective feedback channels (to ensure that you are promptly informed at all times and can make appropriate decisions)
  • Have a crisis communication plan in place (in case of changing circumstances)

When communicating with stakeholders, remember that you may have stakeholders with different backgrounds and levels of understanding, thus your communication strategy for each group may differ. Understanding each stakeholder group and the type of information, level of detail and background information they need is crucial to your effective communication with the different parties.  

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  • You need to communicate all the information you have to all stakeholders
  • You need to select an appropriate communication channel for each stakeholder / group
  • When plans change, you should keep the information to yourself until someone asks you a specific question about it
  • Crisis communication is located in a different department and is not part of the project manager's responsibilities