3 Things you can do while your engagement projects are on hold
Are you stuck in a city that is in pandemic lockdown and wondering what you can do while your engagement projects have been put on hold?
Here’re three things you can work on now to set yourself up for success when life returns to normal…or at least as close to normal as we are going to get.
With so much talk of the economy ‘snapping back’ and the boom in investment in renewable energy projects, getting prepared for a rush of projects while you have the time and space for it would make sense.
1. Set goals
You would be surprised to know how few organisations have clearly articulated goals and success measures for their stakeholder engagement programs. When renewable energy companies sign up for our stakeholder management software, one of the first questions we ask them is “how do you define success?”. If you don’t have clearly defined Key Performance Indicators, now is a great time to try and define some. We tend to get so busy in the ‘do-ing’ of stakeholder engagement activities, that we don’t often pause to consider how we should measure if what we are doing is effective and what value it is delivering.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with writing a sentence or two to describe what success would look like. Then identify three ways in which you can measure progress against that goal on a weekly or monthly basis. Again, keep it simple, simple to measure and simple enough for the whole team to understand. That adage that “what gets measured, gets done” holds true for stakeholder management as well.
2. Stakeholder Mapping
Have you been wondering if Stakeholder Mapping is right for your work? Or perhaps you’ve done some stakeholder mapping in the past and are keen to take it to the next level.
We’ve been putting in a fair amount of thought leadership about how stakeholder mapping can make stakeholder engagement more strategic and drive higher value.
Here’s a quick and simple way to get started with Stakeholder Mapping.
Consider the three stakeholder mapping criteria:
- Influence: the level of influence a stakeholder could have on your project and decisions – for example, a politician or regulatory authority would have a high level of influence over your project.
- Interest: level of interest the stakeholder has in your work – for example, people who have a direct stake in your project or would like to participate in it, or just generally very interested in your work in a positive or negative way
- Impact: the level of impact your project will have on the stakeholder – for example, an immediate neighbour to a property with a wind turbine is likely to have a high impact on your project.
See if you can assign a value for these stakeholder mapping criteria (use a basic scale from 1 to 5 or from very low to very high) for your top 30 or top 50 stakeholders. You can add to this as you go along. Each time you add a stakeholder to your list, you can map them. But tackling the most important or most engaged stakeholders in a smaller list will make this task feel less daunting.
If you already have your stakeholders mapped and looking for the next step – consider setting some goals for each stakeholder mapping category. For example, one of your goals could be to have a touchpoint with all your High Impact Stakeholders at least once a quarter. It’s an easy goal to track (especially if you have good stakeholder management software in place!) and an easy thing to rectify if you’re about to miss the mark. It also makes sure that the team is engaging with the right people, at the right time.
Hint: if you don’t have a very long stakeholder list, you can start getting your lists organised using a free version of Simply Stakeholders. It will give you a great head start on setting up your Stakeholder Mapping, tracking and reporting.
3. Strategic stakeholder engagement
Now is definitely not the time to send your stakeholders 100-page documents and plans and expect them to engage with you on them; or to spring project surprises on them. In the middle of this pandemic, people are stressed and vulnerable, dealing with higher-order concerns such as job security or health concerns and don’t have the mental bandwidth for complex engagement on other topics.
Instead use this time or any engagement opportunities to ask bigger, more strategic questions. Work on the ‘relationship’ part of ‘stakeholder relationship management. Asking broad questions such as “what are the most important things we need to get right for this project in your community?”, “when/how should we engage with you on this project?” can go a long way towards opening lines of communication, building relationships and trust. Spend time developing the question you ask– there is an art to a good question!
If you want some more tips on getting your stakeholder lists and engagement frameworks in order and setting yourself up for success with stakeholder engagement, please get in touch.