It is one of the most natural things in the world to be preoccupied with your own ideas and plans. If this spreads into the way you engage with stakeholders, it isn’t going to get you very far. It is essential to translate your own ideas and goals into words and phrases that your stakeholder might naturally use, or that will speak to their agenda.
I’m a firm believer in the notion that you should have a consistent vision as the base for all communication with stakeholders. If you don’t have this, there is a very real danger that when your stakeholders get together they may start talking about your goal and realise that they are getting different messages. Confusing a group of stakeholders like this is never a good idea and is likely to make you look vague and confused.
These two thoughts may appear like an either/or situation, but there is a very simple way through this dilemma. When you engage with a particular stakeholder, reference your vision and plan quickly and then say, “And what this means for you is…” I’m sure you can think of any number of other linkage statements which you could use. The important thing to notice here is that, because you are making reference to your vision, you are ensuring consistency, and then you are quickly making it relevant and interesting (hopefully) to the stakeholder you are talking to.
Thinking about your goal, consider how you could express the “what this means to you” link for each major stakeholder on your map.
Many years ago, I worked with an ambitious sales manager who was struggling to engage with his Managing Director to get buy-in to his plan to recruit 10 new sales staff. After exploring why he wanted 10, he realised that if it worked, the business could justify another 75 sales people to capitalise on the business potential if the sales penetration rate matched the rest of the business. So he starting talking about his plan to increase the sales force by 50%, with an initial pilot of 10 new ones. He soon had the Managing Director wanting to engage with him!