Mixtape – Stakeholder Engagement Stakeholder Engagement Engaging stakeholders involves identifying and establishing mature lines of communication with the various interested parties (whether this is for an internal or an external initiative). The importance of stakeholder engagement is reflected in the success of corporate initiatives: managing the resistance to change; achieving consensus; building internal & external partnerships; and more. Stakeholders are people or groups who have an interest in the outcome of a decision or an initiative. They may be a team of employees (e.g. a department), a collective (e.g. union), the local community, shareholders, etc. For any given project or decision, there can be dozens of stakeholders. Whether we look at programmes, projects, initiatives, or general day-to-day activity, stakeholder management and engagement are arguably the most critical factors, and yet can often be overlooked. One of the common issues is that stakeholder management is expected of people without the authority of influence – and so how do we ensure that everyone understands the art of stakeholder management and can seamlessly guide any activity through to a positive conclusion? Principles of influencing stakeholders Understand mindset, attitude, communications styles; Focus : identify the right stakeholders before the activity begins – and keep tracking their validity; Pre-wire : consult with the identified stakeholders early and often; Maintain the map : a person’s attitude and mindset shifts and changes continually – track their sentiment to the initiative; Anticipate shifts : some stakeholders will move on and new stakeholders come into play; Appreciate what’s in it for them; Build trust : through honest, openness, consistency, and empathy, strong relationships are based on trust; Simplicity : a confused stakeholder goes cold!; Recognise the risk : anticipate, manage and mitigate the risk associated with each stakeholder; Compromise : manage stakeholder expectations and identify what is required from each stakeholder to achieve the end goal – you can then weigh the size of compromise against their level of authority / influence (risk); Define the benefits : clarity of what success looks like is important not just for this initiative but others that follow – build trust by delivering on promises; Be responsible : you are the point of contact for stakeholders and they want to know that you will be honest at all times (even if it hurts!); and Value their time Achieving Consensus At the outset, an underlying principle of stakeholder engagement is that stakeholders have the chance to influence decision-making. Once the initial decision has been made, work with stakeholders to dynamically develop and implement the initiative and the same principles apply. A consensus decision doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with everything: the various motivators and ambitions of each stakeholder creates a tension set against the vision of the final output. The skilled stakeholder manager can not only enthuse a stakeholder, but ensure that, ultimately, many of the personal aims are also achieved. Eskil’s trained facilitators plan the process and lead conversations to get to a decision. 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