So you’ve identified your key stakeholders and maybe even set up a communication plan and perhaps thought about roles to involve some of your stakeholders. But how can you really make the most of your stakeholders’ interests and abilities to contribute to your change effort in a positive way?
Here are a few ideas adapted from a community health organization, PhConnect, that I found particularly helpful to maximize stakeholder engagement.
Establish Clear Roles & Expectations: Clear roles and expectations are essential to stakeholder success. Your stakeholders must be clear about their roles and the expectations for your change effort. If you are involving some stakeholders in parts of the change effort, using tools like a charge letter or a project charter can help to clarify both roles and expectations.
Create Common and Meaningful Goals and Objectives: Involving your stakeholders early on to establish common goals and objectives can help you ensure that your change effort is successful. It also ensures that everyone is working together towards objectives that they are invested in. Ask yourself and your stakeholders: What goals are achievable AND meaningful?
Provide Opportunities for Input/Feedback: No matter what role stakeholders are serving in, make sure to allow opportunities for stakeholders to provide input and feedback. Think about various stages of your change effort: When is it most helpful to ask for stakeholder input or feedback? In the planning stage? Implementation stage? Evaluation stage?
Use a Common Language: To make sure that stakeholders understand what you are trying to accomplish through your change effort, it is helpful to use a common language, especially when working with non-traditional stakeholders. Avoid using jargon and acronyms that your stakeholders may not understand or provide common definitions of terms that are important to your change effort.
Build Trusting Relationships: Most importantly, work to forge trustworthy interpersonal relationships among your stakeholders. Try to arrive at decisions together, stick to plans, and fulfill obligations. Explore win-win opportunities by asking: What benefits will my stakeholders receive by working on this change effort? Ensuring a stakeholder benefit will maximize their engagement and strengthen the success of your change effort.
In your experience, what has helped to maximize stakeholder engagement?