The webinar opened with a discussion on the multifaceted nature of stakeholder dynamics, both in professional and personal contexts. Participants shared experiences of challenges with engaging stakeholders, particularly in situations where stakeholders were resistant or sceptical of new initiatives.
Three pillars of stakeholder engagement
Ranjit outlined three critical areas for effective stakeholder engagement.
Planning: This focuses on the process aspects like identifying stakeholders, analysis to understand their needs, segmenting, defining desired outcomes and appropriate communication channels.
Influencing: This focuses on the people aspects, to consider their perspective, and different approaches and influencing techniques for engaging them in change.
Mindset: This is a reminder to consider where we ourselves are coming from and how our mindset and attitude can influence the outcomes we achieve with our stakeholders.
Effective planning strategies
Effective stakeholder engagement needs conscientious effort and begins with planning. This involves understanding the wider organisational change context to identify relevant stakeholders, their needs and concerns. Segmenting them into distinct groups to allow for more tailored messaging and engagement approaches. This also helps with selecting the most effective communication channels that will work for stakeholders. The level of engagement and type of approach will naturally vary depending on where stakeholders are along the change journey.
The art of influencing
Influencing stakeholders is an art and requires a genuine desire to understand the other person’s perspective and lots of empathy. Stepping into their shoes to appreciate their concerns and how they believe they may be impacted by change is key. This gives you a good starting point to build rapport and connect with stakeholders in a more meaningful way. Having a deeper understanding of your stakeholders helps you adapt your communication style and approach to better align with their preferences and increase your level of influence.
Reflecting on mindset
Engaging stakeholders and effective influencing requires self-awareness and critical reflection. For example, becoming aware of your own internal chatter and attitude towards stakeholders, can highlight things that may be getting in the way of establishing trust with them. You may be running patterns based on past interactions, that are no longer valid or helpful. Doing some honest reflection on how you may be contributing to the situation, may not feel comfortable, but is incredibly valuable. This could help overcome obstacles and make breakthroughs with some of those challenging stakeholder situations.
Practical engagement tips
Participants shared a range of techniques and strategies, such as visiting stakeholders’ work environments and using tools like RACI charts for clarity in roles and responsibilities. Consistent communication and trust-building were also underscored as vital elements.
The webinar acknowledged the challenges in stakeholder engagement, especially when facing resistance or lack of support from influential figures like project sponsors. But persistence and remaining flexible and willing to explore different approaches with stakeholders is key. A final point from Ranjit was that, stakeholder engagement shouldn’t be seen as something that gets in the way of ‘doing real work’, as it is very much the work that makes everything else go smoothly.
To elevate your expertise with a diverse array of tools, techniques and approaches for effective stakeholder engagement, enrol in our Change Management Practitioner course.
Registration for part three is now open: Building adaptability and readiness for change .