Mid-tier businesses need to incorporate stakeholder engagement expertise                            

Strategic stakeholder engagement is proven to increase an organisation or project’s chance of success and growth

Stakeholder management continues to play a crucial role in the success of any initiative, project, programme, or organisation. It involves identifying, analysing, and engaging individuals or groups who have a vested interest in the cause or undertaking. Effective stakeholder management ensures that all stakeholders are well-informed, engaged, and supportive of the project’s overall objectives.

Stakeholders can be both internal and external to an organisation, including employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, government agencies, community groups and regulators in certain sectors. Recognising that each stakeholder has unique interests and concerns is essential for building trust and fostering a positive and rewarding relationship.

All stakeholders contribute to creating a positive impact on an organisation or project. Given the diverse needs of stakeholders, it is crucial to manage them and address their diverse interests effectively.

In a conversation with Mr Gert Klopper, the Executive Director of South Africa’s Masivane Omnilogue agency as well as an accredited public relations (APR) and communications professional on the aspect of stakeholder engagement from a Southern Africa perspective, where he stresses the importance of employees as the most critical stakeholders. In his interview with Efficacy Media, he advocates for organisations to cultivate supportive and positive work environments to engage effectively with external stakeholders. By demonstrating trust, care, and engagement towards employees, organisations are positioned to enhance their connection to the company.

He narrates that the first step in proper stakeholder management is identifying all relevant stakeholders and understanding their needs and expectations. This can be achieved through surveys, focus groups, interviews, or other data collection methods. Once stakeholders are identified and their needs assessed, a plan can be developed to engage with them throughout the project or initiative.

Effective communication is yet another paramount element in successful stakeholder management. Regular updates on project progress and any changes that may impact stakeholders’ interests should be provided. Tailoring communication materials to each stakeholder group based on their level of interest and involvement is crucial.

Conflicts may arise among stakeholders due to diverging interests. Managing these conflicts requires understanding each group’s perspective and working towards finding mutually beneficial solutions.

On the other hand, engagement activities such as team building meetings, workshops, and town hall meetings have proved to be effective and provide opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback and address any concerns. It has even become more important to consider the feedback gathered when making decisions that may impact stakeholders.

Around the region, as mid-tier businesses seek to be more customer-focused, stakeholders with the greatest impact on operations and performance will appear at the top of the stakeholder matrix – for instance, employees, contractors, customers, suppliers, capital investors and, media. However, as shareholder and stakeholder interests converge, business owners may have to represent, and listen to, a far wider set of perspectives in order to devise engagement solutions that resonate with each audience.

It is against this backdrop that developing, effective stakeholder management strategies have become even more critical for the success of any size of business. By identifying all relevant stakeholders, understanding their needs, using apt communication channels per stakeholder is also critical in engaging stakeholders professionally and managing conflicts. Businesses that continue to invest in stakeholder engagement are bound to build trust and cultivate positive relationships that lead to favorable outcomes for all parties involved.

Stakeholder engagement ensures that all stakeholders have a voice in the planning process and that their needs and concerns are considered. In recent times, business leaders have come to recognize the limitations of the view that they must create value only for shareholders but that every stakeholder has an impact on other stakeholders, for instance engaged employees tend to improve customer satisfaction, which in turn spurs growth, and generates benefits for all their constituents: customers, suppliers, communities, and investors.

Andrew Chinambu

The author is Efficacy Media founder and chief future officer.

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