A team we were working with noticed that their “stakeholder map” had not kept up with changes around them.
They needed to refresh their map and their approach as they were no longer moving the organisation along with them.
Here, Sarah Barber describes three strategies for teams to use in connecting with their wider system.
Refreshing the map
We use the 4 points of the compass to map team stakeholders into 4 segments.
Look N: The team leader’s manager, other senior managers or leadership teams and governance fall into this segment.
Look W: This is the segment for stakeholders that the team needs to deliver to – its customers and clients.
Look S: This includes staff and suppliers
Look E: This segment includes peers – individuals or other teams as well as any group you consider to be a benchmark for the team’s performance.
Three strategies for connecting with stakeholders
Having identified key stakeholders, a high performing team will agree who has lead responsibility for each critical stakeholder and that person will make sure that the relationship is handled well on behalf of the team. Three strategies for making effective connections have been laid out by Peter Hawkins in his book Leadership Team Coaching. The importance of each strategy will vary over time and vary depending on the stakeholder.
Connect as advocates
This means communicating about what the team is doing and raising its profile and reputation. This may feel uncomfortable for some people as it is “blowing your own trumpet” but it is essential. Senior leaders need to understand what you are doing in order to advocate for you. Other teams need to see what you can achieve in order to become customers or work with you in pursuit of your goals. And your staff deserve acknowledgement and recognition from the wider organisation.
Connect as enquirers
This means being curious about what matters to your stakeholders and finding out as much about their world as you can. Before you can deliver to clients or customers you need to find out what success looks like in their eyes. And you need their feedback on what you have delivered. For senior stakeholders, you need to stand in their shoes in order to frame the work of your team in terms of what is important to them. Thinking about your peers, a good understanding of their work and what they are trying to achieve will enable you to spot both potential conflicts and opportunities to partner in pursuit of common goals. When connecting with your stakeholders to help you define future vision, the enquirer strategy will be to the fore. To learn more about this, follow the link to this article Is Your team future fit?
Connect as partners
Hawkins suggests that a high performing team can only get so far with co-creation before they need to co-create across the boundary with their stakeholders. By partnering with other teams inside the organisation and beyond, you will deliver greater value to the organisation than either team can do by themselves. If you are tackling big challenges, you will almost certainly need the help of others to create solutions and deliver change.
What did our team do?
Having recognised the different approaches, the team established an updated stakeholder management plan and made it a priority. In particular, they realised that they could only deliver their own goals in partnership and made a significant shift in their approach to the wider organisation.