While you may agree that focusing on your stakeholders is the right thing to do, do you know where to start or how to approach it? There are three key aspects of Stakeholder Engagement to keep in mind:
Timing is everything
Timing is everything. The time you spend with stakeholders and assessing where they are on the journey is worth every second. If you feel like you are spending more time than you need, you are not. First, begin before you feel like you need to. Then, continue beyond what seems reasonable, even after the change is implemented, in order to sustain it. During the process, engage more frequently than it seems you need to. Check in just to say ‘hi’.
Go deep! The more you dig into really knowing your stakeholders the better. Think of your stakeholders like a peach. You can get past the soft outer layer, but you really need to take your time to get through the outer pit layer to discover what makes the stakeholder tick. Be curious about their personality style, how they like to communicate, their level of influence and their level of support for the change. I especially like the Type Coach personality tools that help you uncover how each stakeholder likes to interact. (Ask me about how to see the Type Coach tools in action.) Also, listen really listen, to your stakeholders so you can uncover their feelings about the change, what they may feel like they are losing with the change, and what they need to unlearn to adopt the new behaviors. (Ask me about the Neuroscience behind change adoption.)
Measure it. The more you measure, the more you can determine where your stakeholder is along the change journey and their degree of support for the change. By creating definitions of what you see and hear at each stage of the change journey, you will see their placement along the journey, to determine what is needed to reach the next stage. Define what support is needed and ask for it. Assess if that support is provided and how you might need to help your stakeholder deliver. Always be ready to catch your stakeholder if he/she falls backward. Helping them reach the next level will strengthen your relationship. (Ask me for sample change journey definitions.)
I would love to her how these principles helped you enhance your relationship with your stakeholders.