Thinking about Stakeholder Engagement

Most organisations agree that a key ingredient of their success is the relationship they have with their stakeholders. But many do little thinking about stakeholder engagement. Others find their engagement is not working as they would like and this is often because they don’t have a cogent and logical engagement strategy.

In some cases there needs to be a deal of self – reflection to assess whether the organisation and its management are committed to serious engagement with its stakeholders and have both the capacity and resources to do it justice.

There are some simple rules to help organisations set out upon developing their stakeholder engagement strategy. They are quite simple but many managers find it difficult unless they have some kind of  structured checklist to follow.

So here are some fundamental questions to act as prompts for the purpose.

  • Who are my stakeholders?
  • Why are they stakeholders?
  • What rights do these stakeholders have?
  • What obligations do I have to these stakeholders?
  • (Do I need to engage with them?)
  • What level of influence will/should they have?
  • What is the best way to engage with them?
  • What level/timing of engagement is appropriate for each?
  • What will be the topic of our dialogue?

The responses to these questions must be of course tempered by a genuine willingness to listen to Stakeholders and to address their needs or at least acknowledge their views and differing priorities. 

In addition, the overarching purpose of the engagement is also a primary consideration. The well-known overlay of reasoning for engagement ranges along the continuum of  INFORM – CONSULT – INVOLVE – COLLABORATE – EMPOWER and the relevant motivation will significantly determine  both the responses to the above questions and the effectiveness of any engagement plan.

Overall, the success of any engagement relies on good planning, careful preparation and committed execution.

If you need help in developing your stakeholder engagement plan – Call in Reinforcements.


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