We know the importance of having a strategic stakeholder engagement plan, but let’s not forget about the value of building stakeholder relationships and how they can contribute to your organization’s success. Negative stakeholder relationships can result in costly project delays, cancellations, and can even negatively impact your organization’s reputation.
By focusing on building positive stakeholder relationships, this helps stakeholders to understand your projects better while making sure they feel involved in the process. This focus on relationships results in a better reputation, lower project risks and, helps towards the success of your projects and your organization.
Helps Build Your Good Reputation
Your Reputation Precedes You
By focusing on building your stakeholder relationships, your willingness to engage respectfully, consistently, and transparently affects how people perceive, not just your projects, but your organization, too.
Positive perception helps to build your organization’s reputation with people directly and indirectly.
Your reputation can affect people’s perception of your organization even before they interact with you due to sharing (e.g. word-of-mouth). With a good reputation, this sharing can work in your favour as a stakeholder may communicate positively about your organization (e.g. online or in-person) on your behalf, which can be extremely valuable during turbulent times or when trying to gain support.
Trust is essential when you’re building relationships, and you gain trust through being reliable, honest, and respectful. When it comes to building trust with your stakeholders, listening is also critical.
When you incorporate these trust-building elements into how you engage, you work towards building stronger relationships with stakeholders whose belief and support in your organization will strengthen your reputation, helping to ensure the future success of your projects and your organization.
Helps Ensure The Success of Future Projects
People Support What They Help Create
Even if you can’t incorporate every stakeholder suggestion or concern, respectful and timely stakeholder engagement helps your stakeholders feel heard and valued. This type of engagement increases the likelihood that your stakeholders will support your organization, even if they don’t support your current project.
Stakeholder Relationships are Not "One and Done"
You could encounter stakeholders from your current project again in the future, so building a good relationship with them early on can help to ensure the success of your current and future projects.
Helps to Lower Risk
If you have established relationships with your stakeholders, the chances are better that they’ll come to you when an issue arises, so you can work to find a solution.
Without a relationship in place, your stakeholders will go where they feel heard and valued to share their displeasure (e.g. their social media followers). When stakeholders don’t feel like they can trust you with their concerns, your reputation and your project are at risk if issues go unresolved or snowball out of your control.
Issues and Commitments
When it comes to stakeholder engagement and consultation, issues and commitments are common, and there is no surer way to destroy your stakeholder relationships than by failing to deal with these effectively and quickly.
However, with stakeholder relationships already in place and by choosing to engage effectively and consistently, you can help to avoid escalation, which is crucial as escalation can magnify a small issue into something much more significant and riskier.
With stronger stakeholder relationships, you’ll be able to work through obstacles quicker and more effectively to help keep your project on schedule, your reputation protected, and your organization moving forward.
Traceability and Accountability
By building stakeholder relationships and utilizing a strategic stakeholder engagement plan (if you’re unsure what this is or how to start this process, check out our blog: What is Stakeholder Engagement, Anyway?), you'll have all your stakeholder engagement history documented. This stakeholder history helps you track what’s been said and what’s been promised moving forward.
Tracking your engagements keeps everyone accountable for their engagement, concerns, and actions. Understanding where a comment, issue, commitment or task came from means having traceability within your engagement program and it can go a long way in better understanding your stakeholders and improving outcomes. Having good traceability and accountability lowers your project risk as you can better prepare and plan for any upcoming concerns and deal with them more effectively to keep your projects on track and your organization protected.
How Do You Build Stakeholder Relationships?
When it comes to how to engage with your stakeholders, check out our post on 10 Tips to Improve How You Engage with Your Stakeholders - to Help Build Stronger Stakeholder Relationships.
As an organization, it’s essential to remember that when building relationships and designing your stakeholder engagement plan, it’s not just about how you engage; it’s what do with that engagement information that can make a big difference, too.
Developing a repeatable and scalable process for stakeholder engagement management is an essential ingredient for building strong stakeholder relationships.
We designed Jambo, our stakeholder relationship management software (SRM), to help you track and organize all your engagements with your stakeholders to set you and your team up for success.
Jambo helps you track all your communications, issues, commitments, tasks and all your stakeholder contact information. With all your stakeholder information in one easy-to-understand place, you and your team can stay on track and focus on the essential tasks at hand.
To learn more about Jambo’s uses and features, check out our features page.