Advanced Stakeholder Engagement

Written by Grant Heinrich, 14 May 2020

The Challenge

Even where an expert has determined which stakeholders to focus on and analysed their needs and built an engagement strategy accordingly, the success or otherwise of such engagements will rest with just how effective their engagement skills are. This module provides a framework to understand human motivations – as stakeholders are complex human beings rather than being formulae which one can predictively run. And the majority of the module is spent practising role play conversations with stakeholders – as ultimately the engagement strategies are only as effective as their execution. And that’s all about developing engaging behaviours and instincts. Such tools and experiences are typically not on the average expert curriculum which likely provides more technical skills particular to the experts’ areas of specialism. Even with the right strategy and intentions, experts who are not practised in the art of engaging stakeholders can still find that their attempts to engage them fall short of achieving the optimal outcomes.

The Content

In this pod session, your team member discussed and explored with their fellow podsters:

  • The sorts of factors that typically underpin stakeholders’ variable levels of engagement. As well as functional requirements – for a particular piece of advice (or data) or service – humans have other motivational drivers such as the need to feel important, or secure, or appreciated, or a sense of accomplishment/progress, or simplicity, etc. These felt emotional/motivational needs often subconsciously outweigh the formal requirements in determining levels of engagement and relationship-satisfaction or -value.

  • The primary focus in this module is practising a challenging stakeholder conversation where there is potential tension between different needs and motivational drivers. The coach will provide each participant with feedback as to how effective their engagement skills were exhibited in the role play. The Punchlines

  • Engagement skills often boil down to great people skills and applications of emotional intelligence. Experts might very well initiate a stakeholder conversation with the best of intentions and strategies. But unless they can think on their feet and adapt to the stakeholder’s responses, their strategy may not end up yielding the anticipated outcomes. To be successful, participants will need to listen and respond effectively to the stakeholder’s needs, expectations, feelings and concerns, read their underlying (often unexpressed) motivations, adapt if necessary and couch their response in a manner which resonates with the stakeholder and gets them back on board. All whilst being engaged in a conversation where they might feel “under fire”

  • Developing mastery of such skills takes considerable practice but, once mastered, will have a transformational impact on the expert’s ability to positively influence and engage stakeholders on an everyday basis within the organisation. Experts often assume that they lack the necessary “software” – people skills, emotional intelligence, etc. – but anyone can progress such skills with practice (on a lifelong basis).