A colleague of mine who is an astute program manager and business consultant asked me this question recently what is the difference between Stakeholder Management and Stakeholder Engagement and are they interchangeable ?
My quick thoughts on this subject.
What is Stakeholder Management ?
- The term Management by itself indicates working within constraints(managing with less or managing ambiguity)
- Managing conflicting priorities
- The role of the program manager is to juggle multiple priorities, ensure the short term goals of a project execution or profitability goals are met.
- The nature of interactions is ensure all stakeholders are heard but the needs of engagement closure is paramount even if some stakeholder interests are not addressed.
- Management Function is more tactical and rightly so.
What is Stakeholder Engagement ?
- Stakeholder Engagement operates from a slightly strategic perspective, operating first from a “Non Constrained” view
- Alignment of goals / priorities of key stakeholders
- The first step is a honest conversation to understand both short term and long term views about a program or relationship
- Arrive a course of action which requires investments and changes in ways of working which may not completed in very short time
- Acting on feedback is key but equally important is communicating the change and taking the team along; The focus is not so much on a hard deadline but creating a positive impact / residual feelings.
Program Manager who can ensure projects get completed on time and ensuring the cross-functional teams (i.e. internal and clients) collaborate to achieve short term goals by efficient stakeholder management.
Engagement Manager typically operate at a senior level look at the strategic priorities from the firm’s side and client side to ensure the account relationship is strengthened over the long term by addressing long term issues, showcasing greater value and ensure the operational niggles do not sour the pitch for future business by effective stakeholder engagement.
In the B2B context, both functions and skills are imperative and one cannot choose one over the other.