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Life is a lot like business and one crucial, yet often ignored aspect of both is engaging with your stakeholders. Stakeholders are all those people who have a vested interest in your future; such as teachers when you are studying or your team and clients at work. In a typical organisation, stakeholders include investors, customers, employees, suppliers, members of the community, the government and trade associations.
Changes in the political, economic and social environment can often have significant consequences for a business, ranging from tougher government regulations pertaining to the company’s products to community criticism stemming from poor business practices. At times like these, a strong stakeholder engagement strategy, which involves formulating a plan to deal with stakeholders, can go a long way towards mitigating consequences stemming from unexpected situations.
Here are the steps involved in formulating a stakeholder engagement strategy:
- Identify each stakeholder’s objectives and interests. This will help you understand their needs and how you can keep each one of them engaged.
- Define the type and level of support you can expect from each stakeholder. This will help in identifying priority stakeholders.
- Compile a list of priorities along which you can rate each stakeholder and their importance; if any issues arise, you will know where your priorities lie.
- Record all communications and activities through which you have engaged with your stakeholders. High priority stakeholders who you feel have been neglected should be engaged with immediately.
As you engage with your stakeholders you will discover that while some may be strong advocates of your cause, others will have the power to undermine you. But with an effective engagement strategy, tailor-made to their roles and your objectives, you will be able to forge strong and lasting bonds with them. This in turn builds trust. If people trust you, they will want what is best for you and help you in achieving your goals.
– M. Khayyam Siddiqi
The writer is Manager Public Relations and Strategy.
First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 24, 2013.