There are essentially three levels of engagement with stakeholders: informing, consulting and collaborating.
Your stakeholder engagement strategy must include all of them – at pace and with volume.
What is the difference between keeping a stakeholder informed as opposed to consulting with them or even collaborating with them?
The difference is the level of engagement required to do each one effectively so that you meet the expectations of each and every stakeholder.
After working on categorising your stakeholders and mapping them according to their levels of influence and interest, you will be able to determine which level of engagement they need.
There are essentially three levels of engagement:
Informing / updating stakeholders
Low-Interest/low-Influence stakeholders are the group that needs to be at the minimum level of engagement.
Your job is to push information to them and keep them informed. The onus is on them to read what you publish.
Post relevant information for them to digest and that they know where to find it:
1. Social Media Corporate Pages. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
2. Press Release Outlets. If you use an agency to do your press releases, these stakeholders must be informed about how to find it. If you do it internally, a link to announcement should be pushed to them.
3. Project blogs and company blogs. Show them how to subscribe to the RSS feed
so that the notifications of new content sends an automatic notification.
4. Corporate websites. Your project should have a dedicated web page.
5. Digital newsletters and emails. They should be on the distribution list.
High-interest/low-influence stakeholders should be connected to everything you’re doing for the low-Interest/low-influence group as a starter.
Beyond that, some additional consulting resources need to be put into play. You need to demonstrate consideration for their high level of interest regardless of their lack of influence.
You can set up online discussion forums for these stakeholders to participate in if they have questions or feel the need to respond to other issues being discussed in the forum. This provides a path for ideation as you deal with important issues.
E-polls and online surveys can be used to gauge their reactions to changes in the projects as announced in the digital media. The responses they provide must be analysed and catalogued for future reference.
You'll need to have a keen sense of perception as to when one of these stakeholders is passionate and knowledgeable about an issue. That’s when you pull them into your inner circle for the required time to allow them to participate.
High-influence/low-interest stakeholders in this level should get everything mentioned so far, plus a more intimate consulting level of engagement.
Remember, these high-influence/low-interest stakeholders wield influence, and as a result, you want to shape how that influence is used.
- Share your project issues with them in real-time. Their feedback might be very useful.
- Ask them to review relevant documents in areas that may increase their level of interest. After all, we are always looking for more supporters and champions of the project.
- Begin the process of targeting them with personalised communications rather than just the RSS feed notification of new content being posted. Invite them directly to review postings that may raise their level of interest.
The concept of “keeping them satisfied” means that not only is perception needed, but you also have to define the role they can play in the project as an advisor, champion, or a provider of funding and services as the need dictates.
They will want something back for their cooperation. Satisfaction is paramount.
Collaborating with stakeholders
These are the bread and butter of your engagement. The collaboration process involves the high-interest/high-influence stakeholders of your project and you must treat them as part of your team.
- Review the project risk register in real-time. Make it available as a shared file and make sure they are notified every time a change is made.
- Involve them to co-author relevant process documents.
- Invite them to provide guest posts to your project and company blogs. Take it to the next level by developing a list of topics that might be well-suited to the specific interest they have in your project.
- Use them as your pseudo-board of directors for the project team management. Share cost, schedule and performance concerns with them and get their feedback and suggestions.
- Give them a corporate email tied to your project and make sure they are on the distribution list for important information that will serve as a heads up for pending PR announcements and major project announcements
- They need to be part of your internal project management communication channels. If you use a project communication tool like Slack, they should be on it. If you are using a formal task management tool, they should be invited to each task list and given work to accomplish as part of the project schedule
Improving stakeholder engagement with digital communication tools
Stakeholder management tools must support and facilitate your communication based on the different levels of engagement your stakeholder groups require.
Tractivity offers all the digital communication tools you need to manage and engage with your stakeholders at all levels in a single system.
Contact us to discover how we can help you take your stakeholder engagement to the next level.