If you have been able to get clarity in your own mind on what you are aiming to achieve, you will also have recognised all or most of the benefits you will realise from success. This is natural and to be expected, although it holds within it a risk that you may alienate your stakeholders.
Generally, stakeholders will not be too interested in how you are going to gain; instead, they want to know what they’re going to get out of it (yes, just like you do). The degree of emotion and greed varies, but deep down we are all considering the personal impact of our decisions and other people’s actions.
At some point in their deliberations, they will also be wondering what you’re getting out of the deal. So when you are engaging with a stakeholder, make sure to be clear about what you’re going to get rather than leave them to guess or fantasise!
To maximise your prospects of being able to motivate and engage stakeholders, consider carefully all of the benefits which could flow from your achievement for them. This builds a resource of ideas for you, which can be used with different stakeholders as you are influencing them. Although there will be common themes, there will also be wide differences between the motivations and hot buttons for different stakeholders – which is where this resource can come in very useful.
Coming up with benefits that others will gain which may involve a loss for you can also be useful. These can be quite powerful persuaders if used carefully. Show others how much you are putting their own interests ahead of your own. It also demonstrates that you have thought through the impact it will have on them and they are likely to respect this too. But be careful not to push this too far. There is a fine balance between being credible in your care of other people and being perceived as either stupid or suspicious!
Another benefit you could get from this idea is that there may be things about your goal and work plan which could be adjusted and could increase the benefits for others. Often, these changes can be made at little or no cost to you. So, when you’re thinking this through, stretch further and look for opportunities to adapt what you are doing in order to increase the benefits for others.
Being open about the gains and losses on both sides of the engagement is most likely to protect you from unhelpful suspicion and also maximise your credibility and influence. And the best way to prepare for this is to create a benefits register in a similar way that you might create an issues log or a risk register in project management.
Draw up a list of all of the benefits which could come from your success. Use the list of stakeholder categories to stimulate your ideas. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
A sales manager was struggling to motivate one of her sales people. She kept talking about all the extra commission the guy would earn if he hit his targets. What she missed was that, unlike her, the primary motivator for this salesman wasn’t money; it was time with his disabled son. So she adapted her approach to offer him an informal day off if he hit his sales targets and then kept talking to him about that. He got his time off and she got her revenue.