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Influence Challenging Stakeholders

As our business and role progresses, we often have the possibility to meet and work with different people, organisations and stakeholders. This allows us to explore different skills around communication and negotiation, and to benefit from new relationships with other parties. Although we all wish these relationships were ideal, we can find ourselves working with difficult clients and stakeholders. If this is the case, how can we best work with our stakeholders to bring out the best outcomes?

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January 2019

Managing different stakeholders

A good relationship with your stakeholders is important for the organisation’s reputation, value creation, financial performance and overall efficiency. Having an effective stakeholder management process enables organisations to proactively collaborate and offer the best possible service.

Learning how to assess each stakeholder can allow organisations to ensure they are allocating the right amount of efforts to the right stakeholders. It can also enable organisations to anticipate difficult moments when dealing with stakeholders and guide its performance into positive scenarios. If the organisation establishes positive relationships and consensus from the beginning, it is likely that there will be no need to deal with undesirable stakeholders. 

Research suggests there are five core themes that can help companies manage their stakeholders.

Research suggests there are five core themes that can help companies manage their stakeholders.
THEMEDESCRIPTIONREFLECTIVE QUESTIONS
Identify the relevant stakeholdersNot all stakeholders will be relevant to the project. Understand the parties that should be involved in order to foster positive relationships and proactive relationships. (Salam, et al., 2006)Who do you need to make your service/project successful?
Expectation managementUnderstand your stakeholders wants and needs. Managing expectations through communication can enhance the organisation’s credibility and avoid disputes due to misunderstandings.How will you communicate?
Measure stakeholder’s interest and influenceFocus your resources and energy on interested stakeholders with influencing power (Winch, 2004).Who are your key players?
Design strategies to manage stakeholdersThere are four different postures when dealing with stakeholders – reactive, defensive, accommodative or proactive. Having an accommodative and proactive approach with your stakeholder will lead to better results (Lim, et al., 2005).How will you engage/act with your stakeholders?
Be aware of your own behavioursTell him, let him give any service which is due from him, let him enforce any bond which he should bind. (Karim-Abd, et al., 2007)What can you do to make that relationship better?

Sources: Karim-Abd, S. B., Ali Berawi, M., Abdul-Rahman, H. & Jaapar, A. (2007). A review on the issues and strategies of stakeholder management in the construction industry. Malaysia, Management in Construction and Researchers Association.; Lim, G., Ahn, H. & Lee, H. (2005). Formulating Strategies for Stakeholder Management: A Case-Based Reasoning Approach. Expert Systems with Applications, Volume 28, pp. 831-840.; Salam, NA & Noguchi, T. (2006). Evaluating Capacity Development for Participatory Forest Management in Bangladesh’s Sal Forest base on ‘4Rs’ Stakeholder Analysis. Forest Policy and Economics, Issue 8, pp. 785-796.; Schwarts, T. (2011). The Secret to Dealing with Difficult People: It’s about you. Harvard Business Review.; Shonk, K. (2018). Managing Difficult Employees, and Those Who Just Seem Difficult. Programme on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.; Winch, G. M. (2004). Managing Construction Projects-An Information Processing Approach. Blackwell Science.

Action Point

Consider your stakeholder management process. How well do you know your stakeholders? What areas do you feel you are good at, what areas do you wish to improve?

Referenced techniques

Technique

Stakeholder Analysis and Management

The purpose of the concept is to explore the ideas and experiences in developing and applying stakeholder analysis. The concept sets out the benefits of stakeholder analysis and provides indicative guidelines and recommendations for its implementation.

Technique

Customer Relationship Management

The concept explains what CRM is, what benefits it can deliver, within which contexts it can be used, how it can be implemented and how CRM technologies can be deployed to support customer management strategies and objectives.

Technique

Need Satisfaction Selling

Understanding customer needs is paramount to delivering a great sales experience. The concept elucidates the key factors for implementing needs satisfaction selling and how sales people can engage customers effectively to build trust and loyalty.

Technique

Change Management

Planned change management allows managers and practitioners to incorporate specific tasks and events into each stage of the change process. The concept explores how to face highly dynamic and complex environments and how to make the most of an organisational change.

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