Stakeholders are important people who share an interest in your success. You need to engage with them at the right time so that you can influence them as easily as possible. Stakeholder influence doesn’t just happen; you have to make it happen.
By engaging with your stakeholders early, you stand a much better chance of being able to help them to understand what you want to achieve. Critically, you need to develop a clear appreciation for their stance in order that you can pitch your goals in the most favourable light.
“Proactively seek out, engage, and influence your stakeholders.”
You can find stakeholders in many places. By thinking it through, you’ll be able to identify different categories of stakeholders. You’ll start to notice the balance between those who are for you and those who are against you. This will help to focus your mind on what you need to do to move towards the realisation of your objective. Failure to map these out leaves many opportunities for influence unnoticed.
There are many ways to begin to map your stakeholders out, and I have developed a unique approach that really focuses the mind on what matters most. You can learn how to use my approach in the Stakeholder Mapping Process.
How to Start Engaging and Influencing Your Stakeholders
- Make a list of all those who can have an impact on your goal.
- Indicate which are for and which are against you.
- Add a score against each to show how much power you think they have.
- If you wish, you can add another indicator of how much they could win/lose, or even how much you trust them.
- Start to consider how you need to influence each stakeholder and how you might do this.
- Develop a clear plan to start engaging with them.
The Stakeholder Mapping Process is fast and easy to apply. Once you’ve learned the simple steps, you will be finding new action that you can take within minutes.
Over the last 10 years I have been using this approach, I have witnessed some quite remarkable improvements in influence, all of which began with this simple mapping process.
Colin Gautrey is becoming the most sought-after expert in power and influence by ambitious and talented professionals who are serious about accelerating their careers and their results. But, Colin is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
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Most people we meet tend to be focusing on influencing individuals — the stakeholder matters most. That is great, however it’s only a start. Once you have begun to make good progress individually, you can start to turn more of your attention towards groups. There are a number of reasons why this presents a great opportunity to raise your game.
- Efficiency. Every minute counts in a busy day. Why spend your time influencing one person when you could spend the same amount of time influencing 10 or 50 or more?
- Complexity. The bewildering array of…
Guilty of Annoying Your Stakeholders?
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Getting them on board with your ideas, liaising with them to resolve issues, all takes time. It also helps a great deal if you get on well with them. Effective working relationships smooth over the inevitable problems and challenges that need to be dealt with.
Trouble is, it is far too easy to irritate them.
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With simple frameworks and processes, this is about taking a careful approach to your work as an influencer, and making sure you achieve economy of effort and create maximum movement towards your goals. Once you know what your strategy needs to be, the actions become straightforward and easier to execute.
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Having a list of stakeholders is a good start; but to get a sense of the priorities, you need to understand their position relative to your Influencing Goal and to each other. That way you can begin to see the bigger picture and develop a clear strategy to accelerate towards your goal.
Using the Stakeholder Influence Map (below), the general idea is that you plot the name of each (impactful) stakeholder based on where you think they are in terms of
Learning to Appreciate and Value Battle-Hardened Stakeholders
Sometimes, from the very beginning of a workshop, it is evident that the delegates have a common problem with a big powerful stakeholder. As we start to delve into their influencing objectives, “his” name keeps being mentioned. Round the table with the power cards ― there he is again. Who is this guy to be such a problem for everyone around the table? Why is he being so difficult and making everyone’s life a misery?
On a recent occasion when this happened, one thing I noticed was that his name was being used as a code for “don’t even try to influence”. It was also apparent that there was a great deal of bad feeling in the room towards this character ― even the mere mention of his name. Well actually, for a long time, they…