Pro Tips: How to Communicate Urgent Requests to Stakeholders

To get prompt and clear stakeholder responses, project professionals need strong communication, consistent engagement—and a backup plan.

Communication is a power skill that helps project leaders keep stakeholders aligned and initiatives on track. But when problems pop up, leaders must ensure all stakeholders follow through with requests—and fast. So, PMI asked project managers:  What steps do you take to quickly engage stakeholders when immediate action is needed?

Headshot of Luis Felipe Villarroel Quinde

Have a contingency plan

When the stakeholder is not available or unresponsive, try to engage with the stakeholder's boss via phone, email or instant message. Focus on the action demanded—if authorization from the boss is needed, or perhaps another backup contact can help. I also would emphasize the possible negative impacts to the contact if no action is taken and offer my help for anything they need. When you don’t reach out to higher levels of the company to try to solve the problem during urgent times, you are not doing your job as a project manager. It helps if you identify these backup contacts from the start. When you first engage with a stakeholder, ask them for an emergency contact.
Luis Felipe Villarroel Quinde, PMP, senior project engineer, Alicorp, Lima

Headshot of Anirud Srinivas

Set expectations—and keep in touch

Keeping the stakeholders well-informed about the progress from day one keeps them engaged and creates a sense of ownership. That way, when there is an emergency or the need for an urgent answer, it makes it more likely that stakeholders will respond. By proactively setting expectations for stakeholder participation, project managers can make sure they get feedback on demand when there’s an unexpected high tide.
Anirud Srinivas, senior executive project manager, HCLTech, Tamil Nadu, India

Headshot of Morgan Studer

Don’t be a stranger

If you work in the same industry or business area for several years, it’s likely you’ll encounter the same stakeholders project after project. So maintaining sound relationships with past and current stakeholders makes it more likely that they will respond quickly when there are urgent requests. 

There are a number of ways you can maintain those relationships. I prioritize in-person interaction with people at the office or people I might see every day during a project. An informal chat during a coffee break can be a good opportunity to reconnect. For external stakeholders, like suppliers, I call them occasionally to discuss industry trends or see if they have time to meet them in person once in a while.
Morgan Studer, PMP, engineering and new works project manager, Yposkesi, Paris

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