Now that you have identified your stakeholder and assessed their level of support, it is time to map the relationships among them. When we have a clear overview of the relationships, we can actively work to manage or influence these relationships.
How to keep healthy relationships
Managing relationships might sound a bit manipulative to some. However, relationships are often taken for granted. People expect relationships to run by themselves without the need for management. Successful relationships are hard work, regardless of the type of relationships. Supplier-customer, strategic alliance relationships, relationships with co-workers, even personal relationships: they all demand a lot of attention, communication and work to stay healthy.
As a leader it is your role to manage those relationships actively. The functional mapping tool can help you to do so. This tool will help to create a visual relationship overview and clarity in relationships.
Functional mapping of stakeholder relationships
Functional mapping is based on the fact that organizations are different. Hence your peer stakeholder relationship may be on a different organizational level than you are. Take for example a large multinational company that teams up with a small one. The functional peer of the CEO of a small company might be someone else than the CEO of the multinational; it will probably be the CEO or general manager of a business group.
In its simplest form, the functional mapping tool is a table with two columns. In the left column, you list the people involved in the alliance from your organization. And in the right one, you will map their functional counterparts at the other organization to it. The mapping will become a bit more useful when you also add their titles and function in the relationship to it.
In the sample table, I have added one more column. That is the status column, which allows you to actively use the tool as a management tool. You can use this column however works best for you. It can be a description like in the example, or a traffic light status system.
Like with many tools, also this one is a powerful one, for you to build and maintain together with your counterpart. It will create a complete picture of the relationships and help you both in the management of the alliance.
In this article, I used an alliance with two partners as an example. Also for alliances with multiple partners, it can be a helpful tool. You can add additional columns to the sheet to maintain the single overview. Also, you can create multiple sheets, for instance, one sheet for every partner combination. Within an organization, the tool can be as powerful. You can use it to create a visible map of the functional relationships among your stakeholders.
You can download a template of the Functional relationship mapping tool here. Use it and extend it as you wish. However, remember to keep it simple! The most straightforward tools are the most powerful ones.