How to communicate with stakeholders

How to communicate with stakeholders

Keeping key players happy is the bread-and-butter of corporate success.  Whether they’re the deal makers, facilitators, promoters, suppliers or buyers; stakeholders are the people with the power to make or break your business. So how do you keep them satisfied? The secret is obvious, but rarely simple: be honest and keep them in the loop.

Here’s how to communicate and gain respect from senior stakeholders:

1. Identify your key stakeholders: 

Once you know who your target audiences are, you can tailor your actions to meet both of your needs.

2. Create a management plan: 

Now you’ve worked out the ‘who’, you’ll then need to outline what you’re going to communicate, the method you’re going to use and how often you’re going to do it. Think of it as primarily a public relations plan. It needs to further the goals and/ or objectives of your organisation and help improve its operations, while smoothing relationships with target audiences and creating tangible results.

3. Provide constant updates: 

Keep the key players informed of all new developments across a multitude of media. It’s a good idea to ask them which methods of communication suit them best.

4. Know your audience: 

While most stakeholders are comfortable with social media (more on that later) and email, some may prefer a more personal approach including phone calls, video conferencing or face-to-face meetings. While the latter is to be discouraged on a regular basis (it’s too time consuming), it’s a great idea to meet in person initially (or at least on a video conference) so you have a better understanding of who you’re dealing with.

5. Communication is a two-way street: 

Don’t forget to let stakeholders have their say too, or to actively listen when they do. No one likes to feel like they’re being dictated to.

6. Use social media: 

As the current communication method of choice for many individuals and businesses alike, Twitter, Instagram, Blogging, Facebook etc can be an essential (and increasingly common) tool in stakeholder management. Using social media to inform also makes it easier for your audience to participate in the conversation.  

7. Know your medium: 

Tailor your story to the communications stream you choose. For example, a news story can easily be converted to a blog and from there into a tweet etc. For internal stakeholders try using weekly newsletters and the company intranet to provide regular updates on company movements and progress. For ground-breaking developments like take-overs, restructures and major technological changes, however, meetings are still mandatory.

8. Try an online project management tool: 

While not essential, you might find an online tool which is accessible to all your key stakeholders – and regularly updated with critical information – another valuable time saver.

9. Honesty is the best policy:

Make sure you’re as upfront about your trials and your failures as you are about your successes, so you can modify your plans and do course corrections when needed.

10. Be decisive: 

Once you’ve got the results of your intelligence, surveys etc, implement them as soon as possible. Otherwise you’ll find your stakeholders becoming disconnected and disillusioned.

Tips on how to talk to workplace stakeholders:

  • Identify your target audience.
  • Create a stakeholder management plan.
  • Communicate early and often across a number of different mediums.
  • Dialogue with stakeholders should work both ways.
  • Implement changes immediately.

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