Your stakeholders are those people who have an interest in the performance or survival of your organization and who might influence or be influenced by your business outcomes. In the context of business analysis, organizations focus a great deal on current customers, and many businesses anchor activities to serve current and future customers. It is important to note, however, that customers are only one part of a broader context of how your organization views and engages with its stakeholders overall.
When considering your stakeholders, there are two types that typically emerge: internal stakeholders and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders can include employees of the company, business leaders and business owners such as stockholders or board members. External stakeholders can include community members, strategic partners, government, customers, suppliers, competitors, unions, investors, the media, creditors, etc.
Effective stakeholder management is a proactive process. It involves identifying your stakeholder groups, learning what is important to them, the opportunities (or threats) that your stakeholder groups present, acknowledging your responsibilities to them and determining what can be done to effectively address stakeholder interests. Making time to outline your stakeholder strategy can benefit your firm’s performance over the long run.
If the power and authority of your stakeholders is relatively high, you’ll want to keep them informed of your business operations at a more in-depth level. Similarly, if their interest level in the business is very high, you’ll want to proactively reach out. Here are a few tips for managing each stakeholder group:
- Manage closely those stakeholders who have a lot of authority and whose interest level in your business is high.
- Keep satisfied those stakeholders who have a lot of authority and whose interest level in your business is low.
- Keep informed those stakeholders who do not have a lot of authority but whose interest level in your business is high.
- Monitor those stakeholders who do not have a lot of authority and whose interest level in your business is low.
As you engage with your stakeholders, you will gain insight into the various perspectives that they hold. This will help uncover important information that can serve your organization well as you navigate towards your future. As you engage stakeholders, it will help build trust. This trust may reduce the costs of doing business or the levels of engagement required to facilitate a business transaction. Stakeholder engagement may also strengthen your reputation, enhance achievement of organizational goals and enable effective adaptation as changes take place.
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