Do you really know your stakeholders?


It’s late in the day and you’re thinking about home. Your phone rings. It’s your #1 challenging stakeholder ringing you at the 11th hour to get you to ‘push something through’ the system quickly.

No prior warning, no apology and no discussion yet again – just the excuse they are busy and couldn’t get to you any earlier. Why do the same patterns keep repeating themselves with some people?

Business today seems to have lots of ‘busy badge’ wearers walking the corridors.  When asked “How are you?” the inevitable response is “Busy! How are you” … and the story goes on.

But when do you and your team push the ‘stop’ button on the busy-ness and check in?  When do we step off the spinning wheel, and step back from our working environments, to assess not only where we are at, but where our key relationships with our stakeholders are at? I’d guess and say not very often!

Assessing our stakeholder relationships is critical to our success. Why?

  • Effective business requires effective partnerships;
  • Procurement, supplier engagement, contract management and category management (to name a few key roles) are not solo games – we need to work with and through others to achieve business goals;
  • People are all different and when we think of them as the same, we can mistake how they want to be engaged, communicated to and partnered with;
  • Sometimes you or your team are expending too much energy on the wrong people (often the difficult stakeholders!) whilst key stakeholders are neglected, impacting on your brand and net promoter scores; and
  • Having a strategic stakeholder map can influence outcomes and gain more ground for you and your team.

When planning a strategy, project or key piece of work, it’s imperative to first analyse WHO our key stakeholders are, WHAT they need from us and vice versa, HOW we engage and communicate with them and WHEN we do this, in order to manage expectations and risks proactively.

To do this well you have to know and apply the right tools.  There are lots of tools out there to play with. Our experience has been that getting the basics right and applying them consistently will help to define your approach.

Stakeholder management tools include:

  • Understanding who your stakeholders actually are
  • Analysing their influence, interest and power within the relationship
  • Defining how you approach them to ‘educate’ them on what you do and how you can help
  • Using strategic ‘silver bullet’ questioning to ascertain their needs
  • Applying RASCI to manage expectations, outcomes and define roles
  • Devising a strategic communications plan with proactive communications
  • Managing up effectively
  • Reflecting on what is and isn’t working before applying tools to rectify problems and get the relationship back on track
  • Building trust within the organisation, team and its people – it’s the basis of all human interaction and where good relationships start.

Do you have these tools in your ‘toolkit’? If not please talk with us about our training sessions on this topic.

If you or your team need to ‘stop’ and reflect on your stakeholders and add some strategy to your engagement plans, let us help you to gain more ground!