A stakeholder refers to any individual or organization that can be impacted, positively or negatively, by the actions or changes within an organization. They can also be the ones with the capability of affecting the actions of a company, either positively or negatively.

Stakeholder analysis skills, therefore, refer to the ability of any individual to identify and analyze all the stakeholders of any activity or project, in order to understand their respective positions (with respect to their power and interests), develop cooperation (with each other as well as the project team), and figure out ways to address their interests in a certain policy, project plan or other activities.

Why is stakeholder analysis important

Stakeholder analysis is the fundamental element in successful stakeholder management. It is a valuable tool that provides through understanding of the interests of all stakeholders and helps in the assessment and prediction of their attitudes towards any changes or critical actions.

This not only helps in discovering effective ways of influencing stakeholders but also highlights all potential risks. This is especially true in case negative stakeholders are identified who are likely to have a negative impact on the project. As a result of using this tool in the preparation phase of a project, you can better manage the stakeholders, their interests, and their impact on project activities during execution phase.

How to improve stakeholder analysis skills

Following are some helpful tips to significantly improve your stakeholder analysis skills:

  • Prioritize all the stakeholders. As part of your analysis you must remember to identify and prioritize your key players. Any stakeholder that has the ability to significantly impact the success of a project must be recognized as the top priority. The interests of all such stakeholders must be addressed before all others.
  • Determine the outlook of the key players. Most of the times you will have a clear idea about the moods of the stakeholders right at the outset, that is, whether or not they stand in support of the project. If not, it must be determined in the early stages so that the stakeholders that are the most difficult to handle are treated carefully. Instead of avoiding them, the better approach is to give them greater attention and avoid unnecessary conflict situations.
  • Engage with the key contributors. Ensure effective communication to build a healthy relationship with all the key players and work out the best approach to engage with each of them. This will help you understand what it is that really makes them tick. Knowing and appropriately addressing their special interests in the project will help you earn their ceaseless support.
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