How to Manage Your Stakeholders in 4 Steps

stakeholder management process
Stakeholder Management is the systematic identification, analysis and planning of actions to communicate with, negotiate with and influence stakeholders
The 4 step Stakeholder Management process is a simple, but effective way of managing your stakeholders through the end to end process of identification, analysis, planning and engaging.

The Stakeholder Management process

  1. Stakeholder Identification
  2. Stakeholder Analysis
  3. Stakeholder Planning
  4. Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Identification - who are your stakeholders?

A stakeholder is anybody who can affect or is affected by an organization, strategy or project. They can be internal or external and they can be at senior or junior levels.
Start by writing a list of everyone you can think of who will be affected. Your list could include:
  • Those who will feel positive and negative impacts
  • Internal staff
  • Partners and suppliers
  • The public
  • Media
  • Regulatory authorities (External Regulators)
  • Customers
Then with your team ask these 4 simple questions to identify more stakeholders and specific individuals.
  1. Who will be impacted?
  2. Who will has an interest/right/stake?
  3. Who wants us to fail?
  4. Who wants us to succeed?
More techniques to define your stakeholders. Example stakeholder lists are available with the Stakeholder Management templates and ebook.

Stakeholder Analysis - who is important and influential?

Stakeholder Analysis is a systematic way to analyze stakeholders by their power and interest. High power, high interest stakeholders are Key Players. Low power and low interest stakeholders are least important. This guide shows you how to analyze stakeholders by influence and interest.
Once you have identified your stakeholders you may have a long list of groups and people who could be affected or affect your business. Now you need to identify who is important and who to spend most effort on managing.

This is where Stakeholder Analysis techniques come in. One of the most commonly used techniques is the interest and influence grid. This is a simple, but very powerful way of categorizing stakeholders and developing a tailored strategy for engaging each stakeholder based on their relative interest and influence in your business or project.

Steps to prepare the interest and influence grid. Use a prebuilt stakeholder analysis template or draw your own:
  1. Draw a square on a piece of flipchart paper and split it into four boxes.
  2. Label the left side Influence and the bottom of the square Interest.
  3. Label the bottom left box - 'Least important'.
  4. Label the bottom right box - 'Show consideration'.
  5. Label the top left box - 'Meet their needs'
  6. Label the top right box - 'Key player'.
Review your list for each stakeholder or group and decide how much interest they have in your project and how much influence they could have on your project. Using post-its or a marker pen put them into the appropriate box on your interest and influence matrix.

You may have guessed that you will want to treat the stakeholders that have a high interest and influence on your project differently from those that are not influential and not interested.

Step by step guide to Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder Planning - how will you manage your stakeholders?

Now that you have completed the identification and analysis stages it is time to develop your stakeholder engagement strategy.

Identify 'win/win' strategies for managing your stakeholders

Document the results of your Stakeholder Analysis in a table which lists each stakeholder or group and their place on the interest/influence matrix. Add two columns and use one to describe their goals and the other to identify win/win strategies for engaging with them.

Develop the communication and reporting plan

Using the information you have gathered in the previous steps write a communication and reporting plan that documents: the information requirements, frequency of communication, communication provider and channel of communication for each stakeholder. Make use of your existing reporting structure to manage and communicate with your key stakeholders and don't forget to make use of technology e.g. webinars, video conferencing, internet and intranet.

Stakeholder Engagement - how will you engage with your stakeholders?

Stakeholder engagement is the process used by an organization to engage relevant stakeholders for a purpose to achieve accepted outcomes. AccountAbility, 2008
Stakeholder Engagement is about engaging with relevant stakeholders and choosing the most efficient and effective engagement approach. As a rule of thumb time intensive and expensive approaches like one to one meetings, working partnership and extensive consultation should only be used for the most powerful and interested stakeholders - the Key Players. For stakeholders that may be highly interested in your project, but have low influence focus on cheaper one-way engagement like newsletters or webpages.
More detail is provided in our guide to stakeholder engagement.

You have made it to the last step in the Stakeholder Management process! Now you just need to pull your work together to form your stakeholder engagement plan. This should contain the following sections:
  • Purpose of the Engagement Plan
  • Project background
  • Introduction to the Engagement Plan
  • Stakeholder Analysis results
  • Win/win strategies
  • Communication and reporting plan
  • The full list of stakeholders

Make sure that everyone who is involved in delivering the plan has read and approved it and understands the actions that they need to take.

Now you know who your stakeholders are, you have identified the key players and you have a plan for engaging with them. By taking these four simple steps you are already way ahead and your project has a much greater chance of success!

The Principles of Stakeholder Management

Between 1993 and 1998 Clarkson Center for Business Ethics & Board Effectiveness held four conferences out of which developed the seven Principles of Stakeholder Management. These principles are intended as guidelines for how Managers should manage their stakeholders. View the principles of Stakeholder Management here...

Stakeholder Management references and further reading

AccountAbility, 2008. AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES) [pdf] Available at:
<;> [Accessed 19 March 2013]

Bryson, J. (2004) What to do when stakeholders matter. Public Management Review, 6 (1), p.21 - 23. Available at

Eden, C. and Ackermann, F. (1998) Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management, p117, London: Sage Publications.

Freeman, R. E. (1984) Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, p46, Boston, MA: Pitman. Latest edition.

Freeman, Edward. (2010) Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Freeman, Edward, Jeffrey S Harrison, Andrew C Wicks. (2007) Managing for Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation, and Success (Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics Series in), Yale: Yale University Press. Latest edition.

OGC, Managing successful programmes, London: TSO, 2007 pg. 51. Latest edition Managing successful programmes.

OGC, OGC Successful Delivery Toolkit, London: TSO, 2005. Unfortunately the toolkit appears to have been removed from the National Archives see OGC Successful Delivery Toolkit.

Stakeholder Management - resources