Why should I get to know my stakeholders?
By Marcela Ramirez
Senior Sustainability Manager
Imagine the scene: You and your new female suitor have been invited to a family reunion. Of course, you want to put your best foot forward. So, you dress appropriately and groom yourself for the occasion, trying to look your finest. The time for the reunion arrives and the lady in question introduces you to a series of relatives: fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, and cousins. You greet everyone with a big smile, trying to remember everyone’s name and their position in the family tree.
As the night continues, you realize that things are not going as well as you had planned. For example, the cousins are giving you suspicious glares, and the Aunt, sister of the mother, decides to remove the uncle from your presence, and the father is no longer talking to you.
You have no clue what is really going on because you brought a big smile and the best of intentions to the gathering.
The next day, you discuss the issue with your intended and find out what the problem was: the cousins are staunch supporters of a sports team you criticized heavily during dinner; the uncle in question is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and you gave him a glass of wine, which he accepted. And the father is a member of a political party that you labeled as inefficient and corrupt.
Although you did not know these facts at the time, this was the reason you caused such a disastrous first impression with the family.
If you had at your disposal all of this information before you arrived at the reunion, you would have been hailed as the ideal suitor for the lady in question.
I know this example sounds a bit exaggerated, but who of us have not “put our foot in it” by not knowing who the person is we are talking to? This has happened in our personal lives and it has also happened at work.
All of us who have worked in Corporate Communications, Community Relations, Social and Communications Management, know that the best instrument we have to avoid this type of scenario is by mapping stakeholders.
Stakeholder mapping is an important tool in all types of Project management. Mining, oil, and industrial projects have always used this technique. For those who negotiate permits and authorizations within the Community and authorities in places of work, stakeholders mapping is an initial tool that must be updated during the length of the project. However, all types of projects can benefit if they know who their stakeholders are, and what is their position in relation to the project. And each time, this relationship management we have with our stakeholders acquires greater importance.
What we need to do at the start of the Project is to maintain a good relationship with our public interest’s groups. To do this, we must first identify and prioritize them.
Who are the stakeholders in my Company? The interest’s group or stakeholders are groups of individuals who are or may be affected by some aspect of the activities within a Company. Or they have or could have some other interest or even affect the Company in some way. It is important to highlight that these groups are not just affected by the Company, but they can also affect —positively or negatively—the Company.
To begin the analysis and prepare a working strategy with stakeholders, we must begin by responding to the following questions:
Who are our stakeholders (both internal and external)?
Why do we need them?
What are their areas of interests? What do they value? What moves them? What are their needs?
What is the current degree of relationship with these groups?
Using these questions will help us to prioritize these groups. It will depend on the information that we need to identify what our prioritization criteria will be. For example, the power that the stakeholder has within their community (real or virtual), the impact they can have, their mobilization capability, and how much they can be affected by our project.
From this analysis, we can begin to present relationship strategies with each one of the stakeholders. This also allows us to make decisions that satisfy everyone or most of them. If we do not know and understand our stakeholders, we will not be able to offer appropriate strategies.
To have a good relationship with all of our public interest’s groups (stakeholders), it is important to generate an environment of trust. This can be achieved if we develop appropriate strategies for each of our public interest groups, where a win-win relationship—that approaches their expectations and are consistent with our corporate objectives—can be met.
It is important to note that mapping stakeholders is not the only diagnostic tool and/or understanding reality in a determined context. It is a tool that must and should be complemented with additional analysis and diagnostics. This will help us to understand the reality we are facing in daily work. This, in turn, will allow us to have a greater chance of success.
Source: Pacific Latam