Anyone who is pretentious to the actions of a business is a stakeholder for the company. Stakeholders are elements that are necessary for the existence of any business and, without whom, it would not survive. In this age of challenging social context, managing stakeholder relationships holds a lot more value than before. The stakeholders have an influence on your business and debauched relations could lead to project delays and terminations, draining resources and political interference.
Efficacious recognition, collaboration and concern for your stakeholders will foster your business’ ability to reduce risk and deliver a fruitful project. Here are some tips to help you stay on good terms with your employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, investors, and the community.
Managing Stakeholder Relationships
Before you start off with anything else, you need to identify your stakeholders, from your employees to the customers and everyone in between that is in some way connected to you. Some of them are more influential than others and your priority should be to identify them.
As much as external stakeholders are critical, internal stakeholders such as employees, suppliers, and shareholders will help you in determining if you have adequate resources to keep up with the desires and demand for your business. Mapping out the key stakeholders, whether internal or external, determines the amount of leverage you can execute while dealing with them.
In an ideal scenario, a business is able to cultivate positive relations with all stakeholders, however, in reality, there is never enough time and resources to commit to everybody, making it critical for you to prioritize. Those who have the same interests as yours and have similar goals and objectives can be prioritized and be a part of your success. Two of the most reliable factors to measure a stakeholder’s value for your business is their ‘ability to influence’ and ‘willingness to engage’ in your success.
There are different models and frameworks that have been developed by researchers to guide you in prioritizing your key stakeholders. Referring to them solves most of your concerns related to managing stakeholder relationships.
Document what you Learn
When you indulge in business with the stakeholders, there are many things that you learn. Their preferences, aims, and interests in relation to your organization are evident from the way they deal with you. Document their views, needs, and insights so that you can refer to them later. You can do it in the form of a personal diary or a computer file, depending on your preference. The key is to understand them so that you can initiate ways to strengthen the bond by aligning goals.
You can also share your insights with them as they are likely to perceive them in a positive way. It shows them the concern you have for their business and that you took time out for them. Managing stakeholder relationships requires a wholehearted effort for the cause.
Monitor and Refine
All of your earlier activities have been to identify your key stakeholders, what is important to them and how can you work collaboratively to fulfill individual goals. Initially, your strategy is more focused on your internal strengths as you are assured of them but eventually, you will get useful insights about the capabilities of your partners that can help you both prosper. However, the results of this collaboration depend on the amount of research and preparation you have put in to execute a specific strategy.
Learning about what works for you and what doesn’t, who can be leveraged to inspire other stakeholders is critical before you draw upon a strategy. Researchers believe that inordinate insights come from connections, curiosity, and coincidence. Managing stakeholder relationships needs you to stay connected with your important stakeholders and be curious enough to notice the coincidences. If you are not interested, something right in front of you would go unnoticed, resulting in unsatisfactory consequences.
With time, your relationship with the stakeholders gets so strong that you do not have to strategize from scratch and all you need to do is just refine your existing strategy. But, unless you get to that point, you have to monitor every move of your stakeholders.
Proactive Mitigation – Managing stakeholder relationships
After a firm grasp of your stakeholders and how they can influence you as a business, the next step should be to create a mitigation plan. All the risks that concern the involved parties are accepted, shared and avoided together. You must identify your limitations early and set a clear picture of things that are negotiable and those that are not. Working in such circumstances builds trust between the stakeholders as they can rely on each other through thick and thin.
Your aim for managing stakeholder relationships should be to create a win-win situation for all parties and will build a solid credibility to base future relations upon.
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