5 Reasons Stakeholders Lose Interest in Projects (And They’re All Your Fault)



5 Reasons Stakeholders Lose Interest in Projects (And They’re All Your Fault)

Long project lifecycles, overlapping initiatives, and the quick pace of change in today’s businesses can make it difficult for project teams to keep stakeholder interested in a particular project. Supporters may be pulled away when newer efforts launch. End users could disconnect if the phases of the project that affect them experience a period of inactivity. But sometimes stakeholders’ interest in a key initiative falls off simply because the project team hasn’t done a good job of keeping them engaged.

If champions seem to have wandered away from your project or sponsors’ involvement has dipped, consider if your practices could be leaving stakeholders feeling less than enthusiastic.

  1. Your project’s goals are vague.

It’s almost impossible for stakeholders to get really excited about your project if they don’t understand what it’s intended to accomplish. When an effort’s goals aren’t well defined, you’ll have a tough time generating a good level of enthusiasm. To maintain stakeholder engagement, provide clarity around the project’s purpose, goals, and desired outcomes. Explain them in a way that makes them relevant to everyone who is or will be impacted by the initiative, and quickly respond to any questions stakeholders pose about what the project will accomplish.

  1. Your project’s goals are too ambitious.

Stakeholders can easily get excited about a project with big goals, but if things look unreachable then you run the risk of losing them soon after launch. Your team needs to be realistic about the capabilities and resources available to move the project ahead and you also must focus on demonstrating just how the initiative will get from planning through to execution. Remember that stakeholders might disengage and turn their focus to more tangible projects if they think yours is too grandiose to succeed.

  1. You haven’t told stakeholders what you want from them.

Teams are sometimes surprised to see how willing and eager stakeholders are to contribute to a project in a meaningful way. However, problems arise if your supporters aren’t sure what they should do to help the project move ahead. Because your stakeholders aren’t mind readers, you need to offer clear directions about the actions you want them to take. Are you asking them to help secure funding for the project? Do you need them to gather data for use in populating a new system? Would their support in championing the project help engage a reluctant end user group? Be specific with your requests and you’ll keep stakeholders’ interest focused on your project’s most actionable components.

  1. Your project’s key milestones are late.

Once an initiative’s timeline starts to slip, you could lose stakeholders’ interest to other, more exciting priorities. A lapse in the action or large gaps between accomplishments makes it tough to sustain their engagement. Your supporters want to see the project reach a successful conclusion, but if their confidence in your ability to deliver good results wavers, their attention will probably do the same. Be transparent when providing project updates and share your strategy to get a wayward project back on track.

  1. You haven’t told them what the milestones are.

Stakeholders need reassurance throughout the project that things are going well. If you haven’t clearly defined key milestones, they won’t have anything to measure against. This is particularly problematic when a project has a very long duration, or is uncommonly complex. It’s possible your stakeholders won’t recognize mid-initiative successes or see real-world changes that tell them things are progressing. Having key milestone dates to watch provides supporters with reassurance that your project is on schedule and that they should continue to be excited about its outcomes.

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