What are some key strategies to get stakeholders on board?
Being that by definition a “stakeholder” is someone who has a stake in the outcomes, it makes logical sense to ensure your stakeholders AND YOU truly understand what they want from the change. In other words, everyone must truly understand the “what’s in it for me” or WIIFM.
This may involve quite a bit of pre-change-engagement to fully explore all aspects of the “current state” and the benefits and outcomes of the “future state” the change needs to be designed to achieve.
Then invite the stakeholders in to all parts of the design and implementation phases of the change so that they feel they have some control over the outcomes they want.
What are some common hurdles and key tactics to overcome them?
There are three common hurdles:
1. The stakeholders don’t believe their desired outcomes will be achieved.
Solution: Explore their previous experiences that have formed this perception and demonstrate to them HOW this time will be different. Make the necessary commitments to earn their new constructive view, and honour those comments completely.
2. The stakeholders expect there will be too much discomfort from the change, regardless of what they feel about the future benefits.
Solution: Acknowledge that there might be some discomfort during parts of the change process, and continue to remind them of the WIIFM milestones that will be achieved along the way. If they feel they have to wait until the change process is completed before they get their WIIFM, they may lose enthusiasm. Give them little wins along the way as much as possible.
3. The stakeholders don’t take you up on your invitations to be part of the change process.
Solution: This is their choice, and although you could always say later, “Well, you were invited to participate!”, that’s actually not very helpful. When a stakeholder doesn’t respond to, or declines an invitation to be part of the process, check in with them and find out what they want. Maybe it’s just some more regular updates they can quickly read as compared to attending lots of meetings. Renegotiate their desired involvement and then follow through on what they want.
What wisdom would you want to pass on about great stakeholder management?
It’s really about engaging the stakeholder at every point of the change process; checking in on what they want, how much they’d like to be involved, ensuring they’re satisfied with the progress, and that they are experiencing the WIIFM at least in part along the way, and eventually all of the WIIFM by the end. It’s called “stakeholder engagement” because it’s about the engagement…the relationship. If you make it only about the change and not about the relationship, then your focus is off track.