The purpose of engaging with your stakeholders is to keep them properly involved with your alliances. Remember: a stakeholder can affect or be affected by your actions or the actions of your alliance. Engaging your stakeholders has several stages.
Level of support
My previous article highlighted what stakeholders are and how to identify them. After you’ve made your stakeholder map, or your overview, it is time to assess their level of support.
In an ideal world, everyone involved in your alliance will support your alliance and will help moving it forward. In the real world stakeholders will have different interests and might have different agendas. It is important to assess the stakeholders and their level of support.
Accountability and emotional commitment
A useful visual way to assess your stakeholders is by plotting them in a two by two matrix. Here you will assess them based on two elements:
- Accountability: what role do they have in the alliance?
- Emotional commitment: to what extent are your stakeholders committed to fulfill their role?
Stakeholders with a role in your alliance ideally are in the top right quadrant of the matrix. People without a role, but who support your alliance, are in the bottom right quadrant. The top left quadrant is for people who have a role in your alliance, but don’t believe in it. In the bottom left quadrant you find people who have no role in your alliance and don’t like that at all.
After performing this mapping, you will find that your stakeholders are all over the place.
A more balanced view
Performing the assessment is no hard science. It is a matter of perspective. Therefore it is good to do the assessment together with a group of people who are involved in your alliances. You will get a more balanced assessment and not just your own perception. For that more balanced view, I advice you to perform this assessment together with your counterpart at your alliance partner.
Stakeholders are essential
You can use this exercise to assess stakeholders in other projects as well. When I work with clients in a coaching assignment, I always involve elements of the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching methodology. As the name suggests, your stakeholders are an essential part of the coaching program. In those engagements I more than once saw stakeholders in the top left quadrant.
Doing the stakeholder assessment makes you aware of the position of your stakeholders. Together with the stakeholder map, it forms the basis for your stakeholder engagement: more about that in a next article.
Do a stakeholder assessment matrix for yourself: it will be fun and eye opening.