Interacting With Stakeholders: Thinking Traps
Stakeholders are essentially the lifeblood of a company. A stakeholder is any organization or person that will be affected by the decisions made within a company and therefore holds a "stake" in the business' success. They will share their experience, knowledge and insights to support the company and it is up to the business owner to take their thoughts and comments into consideration.
The flow of thoughts and ideas from different stakeholder perspectives is essential to the health of a business. However what happens when, as a business owner, you begin to receive widely varying and competing feedback from your stakeholders? In this case, you may be making some assumptions about the needs of your stakeholders that could be taking you further away from meeting your objectives. Here are some possible thinking traps that may be keeping you stuck when it comes to interacting with your stakeholders and trying to influence outcomes:
- The Match : It is incorrect to assume that you should always match your assertiveness level to that of the other person. The result of this type of interaction is that the conversation gets stuck and no decision is made.
- The Push: It is also incorrect to assume that an increase in your energy level will always equate to you being more influential. Increasing your energy level when having a conversation often causes the other person to become more aggressive or conversely withdraw completely from the interaction, neither of which are going to create positive results.
- You Are In Control: It is incorrect to assume that your status within the company, title, or authority to sign a paycheck gives you automatic control over a situation. This thought trap typically results in you losing your credibility and you may no longer be seen as the strongest candidate to achieve the company's future objectives.
Now that we have identified a few common traps that people fall into when interacting with their stakeholders, it is also important to mention how to maintain good management of stakeholders. Succession Planning, M&A scenarios, promotion or a crisis are catalysts for redefining who your primary stakeholders are and how to best interact with them. After developing a stakeholder interaction strategy, a good business leader must execute with purpose, and always be ready to recalibrate their actions to meet the objectives of the long range plans for the company.
Achieving favorable outcomes during conversations with your stakeholders is never an easy or simple task. Company owners must remember that although they may have a good interaction strategy, they must adapt to each individual and situation.