A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article entitled "How to Create a Stakeholder Strategy" discusses how every stakeholder has an impact on other stakeholders in an organisation. It highlights the importance of using data to design and implement effective stakeholder strategies.
Stakeholders are clusters of people and organisations that affect and are affected by your organisation’s goods and services. Stakeholders hold the power to influence key business decisions and their opinions can shape the direction of an organisation's operations. As such, it is important for businesses to understand who their stakeholders are, what makes them tick, and how best to engage with them in order to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. It is imperative for organisations to implement stakeholder engagement activities to thrive in their competitive business domain.
Stakeholder management is likened to a transactional process that involves one party managing the expectations of the other with the intention of exchanging mutual benefits. Stakeholder engagement is a proactive process that fosters real connections with stakeholders to understand their needs, with the aim to build long term trusting relationships that support mutual organisational initiatives to achieve strategic goals.
According to the Stakeholder Engagement Process Framework by Dr. Peter Cheng which was built upon the stakeholder power/interest grid matrix, there are four stages in the Stakeholder Engagement Process.
- Identifying and mapping stakeholders
- Analysing stakeholders
- Engaging stakeholders
- Monitoring stakeholders
When analysing stakeholders, one should ask the following questions to derive a strategy to engage their respective stakeholders effectively:
- How important are the stakeholders to my team/organisation?
- What interest do the stakeholders have in my team/organisation?
- What would I require of the stakeholders to do and support my products/activities?
- What kind of information would appeal to the stakeholders the most?
- What are the most effective communication methods to garner the feedback of my stakeholders?
- How do I feel about the stakeholder opinions regarding my team/organisation?
- How can I better engage their opinion?
- Who may influence the stakeholders’ opinion about my team/organisation?
- How can I work with these influencers to better engage the stakeholders?
- What obstacles do I foresee might stand in the way of my engagement with the stakeholders?
- How can I overcome them?
Answering these questions can provide valuable data, including stakeholder opinions, perspectives, needs, wants, and desires. Leveraging this information and the four stages of the framework, you can ensure that your leaders are properly investing their time with the key stakeholders. It's important to have a strong stakeholder engagement strategy in place to achieve mutual benefits and increase collective net value, which is crucial for the success of any organisation.
How do you make sure that your people are spending time with the key stakeholders?
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