APM PMQ exam question advice

How to manage conflict with stakeholders

Communicating with a wide range of individuals is a significant part of the role of the project manager. From new team members to seasoned ones, suppliers to stakeholders, the ways in which a project manager is required to conduct their communication will be different from one group to another. The group that is, however, most likely to cause the most complications to any project manager is the stakeholder group. It is really important that a good relationship is created and that conflict with stakeholders is avoided or managed appropriately.

Ensure the lines of communication are open

The main thing that any stakeholder requires from a project manager is to be kept in the loop with regard to the progress that is being made on a project. Depending on their level of involvement, however, whether it is very important to them or they are only loosely connected to the project, it is important that the appropriate levels of project communication are taking place.

Stakeholders are often busy people who are difficult to get hold of and often do not have lots of time to devote to being updated. This does not mean that you shouldn’t ensure they have the necessary information, which will certainly help to manage conflicts.

At the beginning of the project, establish how they would like project updates, when and in what format. This might be a summary email once a week that they can read when they have a moment, a quick email when there is something to be mentioned or a phone call. If they are very busy, then a phone call is likely to be a somewhat unwelcome form of communication unless the issue that needs to be discussed is urgent.

Manage their expectations

During the early stages of the project, in order to avoid conflict with stakeholders, you should also take time to find out what expectations the stakeholders have from the project. Listen to what they have to say and make sure that you address any concerns or worries that they might have. You should also address what you are expecting from the project as well and those things that might have an impact, both negative and positive, on the outcome of the project.

This will help you assess what conflicts of interest if any, there might be from the project between everyone who is involved. The reason you should hold these conversations is simple. They can give you a really clear understanding of the project and ensure that everyone is clear on what they want and what they realistically can expect from the project. Talking at the beginning of the project will ensure that you also understand what type of relationship your stakeholders have with each other. This will identify any conflicts that exist between

If you hold these conversations in a face-to-face situation, then you will also be able to get a better idea of the emotions involved and look out for those little cues that give you a clue to each person’s personality.


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