Managing owner and stakeholder relations
Posted 20 Oct 16 by Sefan Galbo
Stakeholders will typically be made up of two groups, both of which have an interest in the organisation. Some will be directly involved and will sit on a project steering group or be engaged in the organisation's advisory board; they have the power to influence and shape decisions. There will be others who are not key decision makers but who need to be kept informed, as they have accountability for people and business areas impacted by the change. This also includes third party stakeholders such as financial institutions. Contrary to some opinion, owner and stakeholder objectives can be aligned.
Ensuring that there is a well-structured plan for engaging and communicating with stakeholders is critical. Utilise stakeholders who are advocates to influence others who are not as receptive to eliminate roadblocks and navigate through periods of disagreement and differences of opinion. Keeping your communications clear and to the point by highlight key milestones and successes that have been achieved will build owner and stakeholder confidence that the planned outcomes and objectives will ultimately be achieved.
It really cannot be understated; the number one rule is simple - no surprises. Be clear at the start with what outcomes owners and stakeholders are expecting and provide an early view of risks and issues in reaching this outcome. It's imperative to present risk and issues with a solution focus rather than have it be problem-focused. Always provide potential options for mitigating or resolving issues as this will enable people to make an informed choice rather than feeling they only have one option on offer and no room to manoeuvre.
The good news is that it can be done successfully even when it may appear the owner and stakeholder objectives are poles apart. It takes some guile and emotional intelligence to navigate the relationships, but it is increasingly becoming a larger part of the CFO role. Gone are the days of solely being a number cruncher and spreadsheet master.