During an assignment, an interim manager may find themselves with several different stakeholders with carrying levels of interest in their activities and responsibilities. As someone who may have an interest in the project, a stakeholder can mean anyone from different business partners, employees, shareholders, senior management and even the public.
Interim managers will usually have a key point of contact whom they report to on the engagement, however, that’s not to say that managing the interests of different departmental heads, other members of the finance team, senior executives or even board members is out of scope. Just as they have different levels of power and influence within the business, the way you interact with them and manage their expectations as an interim manager will vary from group to group. This multi-faceted group will mean it can be hard to gauge who to prioritise and whom to merely keep up to date. A little bit of planning and a level of strategy will go a long way to be successful at stakeholder management.
Why managing stakeholders as an interim is important
As an interim manager there is a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders; the role requires you to help others, manage your client’s resources and problem solve as you assume responsibility for the project. Whilst you are focussing on performing your job well, others are also focussed on what you are doing with the company’s resources and time and how your actions will affect them. This is where stakeholder management is important.
Managing stakeholders is important because it ensures the positivity of your relationship within the company itself. As you are only contracted to be there for a set amount of time, the way you manage stakeholder expectations will be one of the main ways the success of your time there is evaluated.
What are the benefits of managing stakeholders
Effective stakeholder management will aid in their perception of your performance within your project which could affect re-engagement or a continuation of your contract, or even your reputation in the wider marketplace. It establishes trust and confidence, which is invaluable.
What techniques can I use to manage stakeholders?
There are several different techniques interim managers can employ to manage stakeholders; we’ve compiled our top 6 that you should consider when developing your stakeholder management?plan:
Understand who your stakeholders are
As outlined, there can be lots of different stakeholders so it’s important to identify and establish yours early in a project to ensure you can start working on your relationships with them as soon as possible.
Rank them in levels of interest and importance
Once you have identified your stakeholders, you can begin to categorise them. As stakeholders can have very different levels of interest in the progression of your project and influence in its development, it can be useful to give them a ranking from 1 – 10 with 1 as the least amount of interest and ten the most. You can then cross reference that with a colour system: red for very powerful, green for minimal power.
Differentiate your communication requirements
Once you have ranked your stakeholders, you can then differentiate which ones require more in-depth communication and updates and which only need a status report on a periodic (often monthly) basis.
With your new categorisation system in place and an understanding of your communication requirements, you can begin to build appropriate relationships of trust between you and your stakeholders.
Be open to compromise
In an ideal scenario all of your stakeholders would be easy to manage and foster good, friendly relationships with. However, realistically it is likely that you may find you have stakeholders who want to have more of a hands-on approach to your methods and project overall. In order to effectively manage this scenario, a degree of compromise might be necessary. This will foster a good relationship between you and your stakeholder and develop your soft skills of adaptability and resourcefulness.
Oakwood Resources’ expertise in the interim management market can help you find the best assignments to fit your skillset and ensure success for both yourself, and your stakeholders. We work closely with interim managers, businesses and consultancy firms to support their growth goals, matching the best professionals to appropriate opportunities.
If you wish to discuss interim management opportunities visit the 'Contact Us' page of the website and get in touch with our specialist interim team.