Connecting with Stakeholders
As with all of our work, there is no short cut to building relationships. And that’s essentially what we’re talking about here. If you are looking for a business model to do it for you, or a three-step process to ensuring excellent stakeholder engagement, then you are looking in the wrong place. (But, by the way, if you do find one, then do let us know, because it would save everyone a lot of time!)
Building relationships with people that you want to is one thing, but building relationships with people you don’t necessarily want to is another. You’d better have a look at you and your organisation first before you start on them.
We are being deliberately tough here, but the point is that you will have to do a bit of introspection, potentially on yourself, but certainly on your organisation, in order to effectively build appropriate relationships with your stakeholders. “Appropriate” is an important word here. We are not advocating being best friends with everyone- that is unrealistic. We are not even suggesting that you like the people who are potentially on the other side of the table from you. But what is essential is that you see and understand their perspective.
For a long time, we have believed that exploring different perspectives is a potential route to problem solving and the very best way of ‘being in someone else’s shoes’. Our stakeholder engagement approach is very much concerned with considering their perspective and perhaps for the first time taking a forensic approach to your stakeholder’s position.
In Connecting with Stakeholders, we will consider:
- Your overarching objective and problem statement: You need to be clear on what you or your organisation needs to achieve. Setting this out clearly enables you to flex your attitude, behaviour and interactions knowing what it is you are trying to achieve.
- Your and their drivers: So, you know what your objective is. What is theirs? We will consider both what your stakeholders are trying to achieve, and we will also explore the reasons why they approach it in a particular way. But beware: you have your own way too.
- Trust: Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship- it’s hard to build, but easy to break. We will work on techniques to help you become more trusting, and trustworthy, considering the history between you as people and your organisations.
- Articulating your approach: Using storytelling, influencing skills and “real play”, we will practically explore the techniques that enable you to build better connections with people.