Communication: Are you getting the most out of it?
I’m a huge advocate for communication in any aspect of life. Even more so, for effective communication. I haven’t come across a lot of problems, be they relationship or work issues, that can’t be helped with better interaction and dialogue between the parties involved. So, when it comes to stakeholder engagement, I’m going to highly recommend that better quality interactions between you and your stakeholders will most likely result in better outcomes for your project. There are some key things to consider when it comes to making sure your stakeholders are well informed.
Have you analysed your stakeholders and identified who needs to be informed and at what level? Profiling the different types of stakeholders on a project can help you ascertain the information that needs to be given, and how best to relay that information.
Is it enough to identify key champions in stakeholder groups to relay information? Do you have to undertake mass communication strategies?
Identifying the best people to interact with on the project can help with keeping community discontent to a minimum, as well as making sure you’re getting more bang for your buck.
Are you giving your community all the relevant information? You might be telling them what is happening, but is it important to give stakeholders a time frame they can expect things to be completed by?
You probably don’t want to give them every detail about the project, but If you’re not giving enough information, some stakeholders may think, what’s the point?
Once you’ve identified the key stakeholders you need to interact with, you can more easily identify what may be important and relevant information to them.
The timing of your correspondence can hugely impact as to whether the stakeholders actually take the information on board. Project communication can often fall down because correspondence has happened too late, and the stakeholders aren’t given enough warning to adjust or prepare.
Having a planned schedule of what’s happening and when, and if it’s relevant to your stakeholders would help in making sure they’re getting what they need to know in the best time frame.
The number one issue a lot of our clients face is that your stakeholders feel there is a lack of communication about the projects they are affected by. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not actually attempting to interact; it’s possible that stakeholders just never received your carefully worded emails or SMS’s. Or perhaps there was some sort of miscommunication, so community members didn’t understand what was happening. However, it’s not a miscommunication if no communication happened in the first place. Or at least from the community’s point of view.
Making sure you’re effectively communicating with your stakeholders can reduce the amount of negative press your project may attract. It can also help make the community more excited about your project, and make them feel more involved.
How you’re communicating with your stakeholders can sometimes be as important as what you’re saying. Is email or SMS the best method to a get a message to a project area with a lot of senior citizens? Or should you be doing letter drops or door-knocking? Having a look at how your stakeholders have reached out to you in the past may give you valuable insight as to the best ways to contact them as well.
Making sure you’re communicating through the most effective channels can go a long way to making sure your stakeholders are actually being told what you need them to know.
Ultimately, each project is different and you may not necessarily have to let your stakeholders know about your project, but you’d be surprised at how far a simple courtesy note to let them know something is happening, can go.
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