Stakeholders are, naturally, a driving force for change in any organisation. As a result, it’s important to ensure that your stakeholders’ needs are met, and that you’re adjusting your engagement strategies to suit the individual.
When looking to improve your stakeholder engagement, it’s important to note that this is an ongoing process – it’s of little use to only put in effort intermittently. Your strategy needs to involve frequent communication and well thought out activities that delight and impress in equal measure.
No matter what your approach is, it’s vital that you make intelligent use of data when looking to drive positive change. At SustainIt, we specialise in harnessing the potential of exceptional data. In this article, we’ll discuss how best to improve stakeholder engagement across the board, identifying some of the ideal strategies to do so.
Outline What Your Growth Goals Are
Before you attempt any stakeholder activity, you need to truly understand your overarching business goals. Take the time to discuss where you want your organisation to be in the next 5-10+ years, and identify tangible ways that you are planning on achieving this goal. Remember: conviction is important. If you don’t believe that something is possible, how will you convince a stakeholder? Set realistic goals and make sure you know exactly how you want to get there.
Once you know where you’re headed, it’s time to Identify critical stakeholders. Every stakeholder is an individual, with unique wants and needs. You’ll need to understand your current stakeholder landscape before proceeding; factor this into your planning stage – if you are targeting stakeholders who prefer specific methods, then tailor your plan around this. Ask yourself:
- Have you carried out a similar stakeholder activity in the past? How did it go?
- Can you draw on existing inter-departmental relationships with stakeholders?
- What are your chosen stakeholders’ motivations?
- Who’s the most interested in your chosen growth goals?
- Do you know their current views about your organisation?
- Are they outspoken on social media? This can be a great way to find out more about your stakeholders.
Organise a team meeting to discuss opinions and strategies. You want to gather as much information as humanly possible to ensure that your approach is fully informed.
What are the Benefits of Stakeholder Engagement?
Working closely with your stakeholders benefits the entire organisation. Stakeholders who are more intellectually invested in your processes are also more invested in seeing your business succeed (not just from a financial perspective!). By providing frequent, meaningful opportunities for your stakeholders to contribute, you’re effectively building rapport and reaffirming their importance in your success. The positive impacts are myriad, helping to improve decision making and trust, all while improving risk management and encouraging cost savings – what’s not to like?
What’s the Best Way to Engage Stakeholders?
Once you’ve outlined your business goals, it’s time to put together a plan to help keep stakeholders in the loop over the long-term.
Your engagement plan should be varied and data-driven. Make sure you can back up all of your claims with relevant data and provide full justification for any decisions you want to make. These activities should revolve around potential – convince your stakeholders that your organisation truly can achieve its potential with their help. Many projects lose momentum if stakeholders aren’t recognised for their key contributions to your success.
Essentially, you’re building a shared understanding between both internal/external stakeholders and your wider team. If handled correctly, there’s a distinct camaraderie that can be built which accelerates progress a great deal.
Tools to Help Improve Stakeholder Engagement
Specialist tools are a wonderful way for you to boost your stakeholder engagement. From striking visuals to technical analysis, choosing the right combination of tools for your purposes is important.
Data visualisation is the process of taking something that is notoriously mundane (data), and turning it into something that is both eye-catching and memorable. Visualisation tools are a brilliant way of bringing your data to life.
Your data tells a story. Visualisation tools allow you to tell that story, strengthening relationships and engaging diverse audiences.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools
AI has permeated into almost every facet of our culture. By using powerful AI predictive analytics tools, you can not only assess your current position, but accurately predict whether you’ll achieve your targets in the long-run. Stakeholders are, perhaps obviously, keen on long-term success. Using AI tools to definitively forecast success is a powerful motivating factor.
Quality Data Use
It can be difficult to be 100% certain that your data is both accurate and relevant. By taking advantage of data services, you can effectively determine whether your data is genuinely useful before you approach your stakeholders. The last thing you want is to have holes in your ship when you set sail.
No matter the outcome of your stakeholder activities, it’s crucial that you take the time to evaluate your successes and areas to improve. This can happen either at the end, or at key points during an activity. Identify whether you were as successful as you’d hoped, and if the relationships that you sought to develop are where you wanted them to be.
Improve Stakeholder Engagement with SustainIt’s Data Consultancy
SustainIt is a family-run, independent global sustainability data consultancy. We specialise in making your data work for you, and rely on over 40 years’ experience to ensure that you make the most of every single interaction with your stakeholders.
If you’re looking for help improving your stakeholder engagement, building your organisation’s sustainability and promoting data-driven growth, then get in touch with our team today. We work with businesses at every stage of their sustainability journey, with our focus being on genuine, positive change at every step of the way.