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Chapter 5 of Stakeholder Relationship Management (978-0-566-08864-3) by Lynda Bourne

Measuring Stakeholder Attitude

 
 
Figure 5.1 Chapter 5 focus

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The final part of the process of building robust relationships with the stakeholder community is the development and implementation of targeted communication strategies. These strategies are essential for successful engagement of stakeholders to meet their expectations and for the benefit of the activity. Chapter 4 provided guidelines on how to present and understand the information about the stakeholder community gathered from the first two steps of the Stakeholder Circle methodology. This information can be used in many ways including:

  • promoting the benefits derived from the activity’s outcome;

  • raising the profile of the activity or the profile of the organisation;

  • gaining more attention for the execution or outcomes of the activity;

  • announcing the membership of the stakeholder community to increase commitment of the community’s members to the activity and its outcomes.

 

The information may also prove valuable in understanding the perceptions, fears and objections of stakeholders opposed to the activity to help mitigate or at least manage the opposition.

Any relationship requires constant work to maintain; this applies to family relationships, friendships, management of staff, and maintenance of professional networks. Relationships between an organisation and its stakeholders are no different. The team must understand the expectations of all of the important stakeholders and how they can be managed through targeted communication to maintain supportive relationships and to mitigate the consequences of unsupportive stakeholders for the benefit of the organisation and its activities. The structure of this chapter will be as follows: firstly a discussion of stakeholder engagement and a definition of attitude, and its component concepts of support and receptiveness; followed by the application of these concepts through step 4: engage of the Stakeholder Circle methodology leading to targeted communication strategies; and finally, some points about developing effective communication plans.Figure 5.1 shows the position of this step in the overall structure of the methodology.

Stakeholder Engagement

What is Stakeholder Engagement?

Definitions for engagement point to multiple approaches:1[31]

  • involvement or commitment to a cause or an idea, both:

    • – emotional;

    • – physical.

     

  • participation in the actions of a group;

  • intervention, intercession or conflict:

    • – military battles;

    • – fights.

     

  • obligations or agreements, either social or financial:

    • – mutual promise to marry;

    • – contractual arrangements.

     

  • employment, especially for a specified time.

 

The definition of stakeholder and the process of stakeholder identification from the multiple perspectives of upwards, downwards, sidewards and outwards within the Stakeholder Circle methodology supports this multi-dimensional view. Based on the diverse approaches to engagement listed above, engagement can be defined as: practices, processes and actions that an organisation must perform to involve stakeholders in any organisational activity to secure their involvement and commitment, or reduce their indifference or hostility.

The Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (AccountAbility 2011: foreword), released a Standard for Stakeholder Engagement to ‘promote... an innovative, multi-stakeholder governance model’. The Standard covers all areas of an organisation’s affairs: external, internal and social. Examples are listed below:

  • functional (external) engagements:

    • – customer care;

    • – public relations;

    • – supplier relations;

    • – regulatory and government relations.

     

  • organisation-wide (internal) engagements:

    • – reporting and assurance;

    • – management accounting;

    • – HR management.

     

  • issue-based engagement:

    • – human rights;

    • – heritage and environmental moral rights;

    • – philanthropic.

     

 

The Standard further proposes a three-part stakeholder engagement process:

  • Learning the needs, expectations, perceptions of stakeholders and issues they may have, or may present, to the team responsible for the activity. These processes are equivalent to the Stakeholder Circle methodology’s step 1: identify and step 2: prioritise.

  • Innovating: incorporates the concept of ‘drawing on stakeholder knowledge and insights to inform strategic direction and drive operational excellence’ (AccountAbility 2006: 9). This is equivalent to the concept of mutuality, understanding a stakeholder’s importance and stake in the outcomes of the activity. The stake can include contribution to the organisation or an activity through specialist or organisational knowledge, or financial or moral support, or feedback from external stakeholder groups on the impact or consequences of specific organisational actions.

  • Performing: actually implementing the plans and strategies developed through stakeholder analysis and engagement activities; providing data to the activity for improvement but also providing data to stakeholders to enable them to assess the organisation’s performance. This is equivalent to the Stakeholder Circle methodology’s step 4: engage and step 5: monitor.

 

A Definition of Attitude

Definitions for attitude are also multi-dimensional,2[32] indicating that multidimensional approaches may be necessary when dealing with stakeholders and sustaining stakeholder relationships. The definitions can be categorised as follows:

  • emotional:

    • – a state of mind or feeling;

    • – a negative approach to life;

    • – the result of perception, learning and experience.

     

  • behavioural (either personal preferences or related to culture):

    • – tolerance;

    • – opinion;

    • – manner.

     

  • receptiveness:

    • – willingness to engage;

    • – responsive to the needs of the activity;

    • – sympathetic and accessible;

    • – open to, and interested in, information about the activity, its progress, issues and outcomes.

     

 

Application of Attitude in Organisations Today

A stakeholder’s attitude towards an organisation or any of its activities can be driven by many factors including:

  • whether involvement is voluntary or involuntary;

  • whether involvement is beneficial personally or organisationally;

  • what the level of a stakeholder’s investment is, either financial or emotional, in the activity.

 

If the individual or group’s stake in the activity is perceived to be beneficial, or potentially beneficial to them, they are more likely to have a positive attitude to the activity and be prepared to contribute to the work to deliver it. If on the other hand, they see themselves as victims or losers, they will be more likely to hold a negative attitude to that activity. Part of the assessment of the stakeholder’s attitude will be a review of the stake the stakeholder has, and his or her expectations and requirements for success or failure of the activity. The assessment will need to take into account the following elements that shape attitude.

Elements that Shape Attitude

These can be categorised as follows:

  • culture:

    • – of the organisation doing the activity;

    • – of a stakeholder organisation.

     

  • identification with the activity and its outcomes:

    • – personal values;

    • – identification with the purpose or the activity.

     

  • perceived importance of the activity and its outcomes;

  • personal attributes:

    • – personality;

    • – position in the organisation.

     

 

This essential information can often be derived from the information gathered through the steps of the Stakeholder Circle methodology. However, further discussions may be necessary to complete the ratings for step 4: engage.

How to Gauge Attitude

Step 4: engage is centred on identifying approaches based on stakeholder engagement profiles and tailored to the expectations and needs of stakeholders previously identified and categorised. Developing these engagement profiles constitutes the final step in the gathering of information about the stakeholder community necessary for effective communication. The engagement profiles are developed by:

  • assessing the actual attitude of selected stakeholders;

  • describing the optimal (or target) attitude of these stakeholders necessary for success of the activity.

 

The steps in this process are:

  • Identify the current level of support of the stakeholder(s) at five levels: from active support (committed – rated as 5), through neutral (rated as 3), to actively opposed (antagonistic – rated as 1).Table 5.1 summarises these ratings.

  • Analyse the current level of receptiveness of each stakeholder to messages about the activity: from eager to receive information (direct personal contacts encouraged – rated as 5), through ambivalent (rated as 3), to completely uninterested (rated as 1).Table 5.2 summarises these ratings.

  • Identify the target engagement position: the level of support and receptiveness that would best3[33] meet the needs of both the activity and the stakeholder. If an important stakeholder is both actively opposed and will not receive information about the activity, he or she will need to have a different engagement approach from stakeholder(s) who are highly supportive and encourage information.

 
Table 5.1 Ratings for support

Support

5. Active support: provides positive support and advocacy for the activity.

4. Passive support: supportive, but not actively supportive.

3. Neutral: is neither opposed nor supportive.

2. Passive opposition: will make negative statements about the activity, but not do anything to affect its success or failure.

1. Active opposition: is outspoken about opposition to the activity, and may even act to promote failure or affect success.

 
Table 5.2 Ratings for receptiveness

Receptiveness

5. High: eager to receive information.

4. Medium: will agree to receive information.

3. Ambivalent: may agree to receive information.

2. Not interested: not prepared to receive information.

1. Completely uninterested: emphatically refuses to receive information.

 

Examples of Engagement Profiles

Figure 5.2 shows some examples of assessments of engagement profiles. Stakeholder 1 has been assessed as being ambivalent about the activity, neither supportive nor unsupportive (3), and not really interested in receiving any information about the activity (2). These results are shown by ‘X’ in the appropriate boxes in the matrix. However, the team has decided that the target attitude SHOULD BE neutral (3) and ambivalent about information (3); this is shown with a bold circle. In this assessment there is only a small gap between the stakeholder’s current attitude and the attitude the team has agreed is essential for the success of the activity: the engagement profile is shown as being close to optimal.4[34]

Stakeholder 2 has been assessed as passive unsupportive (2) and at a medium level of interest in receiving information about the activity (4). The engagement profile SHOULD BE actively supportive (5) and eager to receive information at any time (5). In this case, the gap between the current engagement profile and the optimal profile indicates that a high level of effort will be required to develop communication strategies for this stakeholder, to encourage their support and interest in information about the activity. Generally this level of support is only needed from key stakeholders such as the sponsor, steering committee, or a member of the steering committee.

Stakeholder 3 in Figure 5.2 has been assessed as being neither supportive nor unsupportive (3), but eager to receive information any time (5). The team has assessed that this stakeholder SHOULD BE at a level of receptiveness of ambivalent: neither supportive nor non-supportive (3). This is a situation where the current profile is quite different from the target profile and will require careful handling from the team, to avoid alienating the stakeholder.

 
Figure 5.2 Engagement profile – stakeholders 1, 2 and 3

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Analysis of Stakeholder 3 Example

Using the suggested guidance described later in this chapter, the options for closing the gaps for stakeholders 1 and 2 are not very complex. On the other hand there could be a number of paths to resolve the stakeholder 3 example, depending on the role of this stakeholder in this activity:

  • The stakeholder is a competitor, wanting to gather as much information about the activity as possible for the purpose of business intelligence. From the neutral level of support, this stakeholder is not dangerous to the success of this activity, but may be to other activities or to the organisation as a whole. If this is the case, whatever safeguards that can be put in place to reduce the amount of information available to the stakeholder should be done so immediately. It will be essential to repeat the assessment within a short framework to see if the tactics put in place have been successful.

  • The stakeholder is a manager, not necessarily important to the success of the activity, but one who regularly requires lots of information. This may be from a power perspective – ‘knowledge is power’ – to raise his profile. It is essential to interview this stakeholder to offer him more targeted information, in recognition of his busy schedule. The offer should be in terms of quality of information rather than quantity, and perhaps the type of information his colleagues are receiving.

  • The stakeholder is unsure about the information he needs to know about the activity and so requires as much data as is available. The solution here is to meet with the stakeholder and re-affirm his stake in the activity and his expectations/requirements. Once again he may be searching for more specific details to try to extract information that he believes may be important.

 

In all cases, the team will want to manage the amount of information being delivered to this stakeholder to reduce the workload of the team. However, it may be better to not change the amount of information if there is any suspicion that the stakeholder may be alienated by his perception of reduction in information, and therefore reduction in attention the team is paying. Alternatively the team may decide to reduce the information gradually, re-assessing attitude at more frequent intervals than originally planned.

When Current Attitude is Equal to Target Attitude

Figure 5.3 shows examples of stakeholders who have been assessed at the target engagement profile: the current attitude is equal to the target attitude necessary for success of the activity. These stakeholders have been assessed as exhibiting the appropriate level of support and receptiveness for success of the activity. It is important to note that the target attitude does not have to be at the level of stakeholder 5; for less important stakeholders a neutral profile, as shown for stakeholder 4 in Figure 5.3, will be a suitable target.Table 5.3 summarises the ratings for the stakeholder examples shown in Figure 5.2 and Figure 5.3.

 
Figure 5.3 When current attitude is equal to target attitude

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Table 5.3 Analysis of stakeholder examples

Stakeholder

Current support

Current receptiveness

Optimal support

Optimal receptiveness

Comments

1

3: neutral

2: not interested

3: neutral

3: ambivalent

Small gap between current and optimal, probably does not require action.

2

2: passive opposition

4: medium

5: active support

5: eager to receive information at any time

Large gap between current and target, will require additional communication effort to achieve desired attitude.

3

3: neutral

5: eager to receive information at any time

3: neutral

3: ambivalent

See section: Analysis of Stakeholder 3 Example.

4

3: neutral

3: ambivalent

3: neutral

3: ambivalent

This stakeholder is not assessed as being important for success, at this time in the activity.

5

5: active support

5: eager to receive information at any time

5: active support

5: eager to receive information at any time

This stakeholder is probably a senior manager assessed as being essential for success: maintain existing communication plan.

6

4: passive support

3: ambivalent

4: passive support

3: ambivalent

This stakeholder may naturally provide passive support for this and other activities for personal or management reasons without additional information.

Targeted Communication

Based on the overall level of engagement and the mutuality factors identified in step 1, a targeted communications plan can be developed focusing on:

  • the key stakeholders;5[35]

  • other important stakeholders with a significant gap between their current attitude and the target attitude.

 

Why Target Communication?

In any activity the organisation decides to fund and support, the major constraints will be availability of resources, both human and financial. The timeframe for completion of the activity will usually provide an additional constraint. For these logistical reasons alone, the team will need to consider how best to manage its communication activities for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. However there are other more strategic reasons for a targeted approach to communication. Stakeholders who have been identified as essential to the success of the activity may be equally essential to other activities. Focused and relevant communication will have a better chance of a positive response than communication that is less focused and relevant. Analysis of who is important to the success of the activity will provide clear focus on the communication needs of these stakeholders. Finally, through a structured approach to understanding which stakeholders are most important, and what their expectations and attitude to the activity are, an understanding of potential conflicts between stakeholders’ expectations of the activity can be exposed and addressed early.

Communication Planning

The basis for an effective communication plan is to define for each stakeholder:

  • the most appropriate information;

  • the most effective message format; and

  • the most efficient methods and frequency of transmission or delivery.

 

Figure 5.4 summarises the analysis of stakeholder communication strategic requirements. A stakeholder, once identified, is categorised into directions of influence to define the most appropriate format and content of the message; the central theme and intention of the message is influenced by mutuality, the two-way driver of successful relationships. Finally, the relative importance of each stakeholder (from step 2: prioritise) coupled with the engagement profiles (the matrix showing current attitude compared to target attitude) of these stakeholders will assist the team in establishing the most effective methods, and the quality, quantity and frequency of the messages.

 
Figure 5.4 Stakeholder communication analysis: decomposition of upwards

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The Most Appropriate Information

Directions of influence (from step 1: identify) will help define the format and content of the message:

  • upwards;

  • downwards;

  • sidewards;

  • outwards;

  • internal (to the organisation) or external (to the organisation).

 

The Most Effective Message

Mutuality (from step 1: identify) will define the focus of the message, based on:

  • why this individual or group has been selected as a stakeholder – why they are important to the success of the activity;

  • what the stakeholder requires from success or failure of the activity – expectations or requirements.

 

If the message is crafted to give the stakeholder information that shows that his requirements are known and being considered, this will sustain a perception that the activity is well managed. The most appropriate messenger should be selected based on:

  • who will be the most effective messenger – has the knowledge or experience;

  • who is most likely to be listened to – is a peer of, or respected by the stakeholder;

  • who can most effectively influence the attitude of the stakeholder?

 

The Most Efficient Methods

One of the most important aspects to consider is efficient delivery of the necessary information. The following guidelines provide the team with an understanding of where to focus their communication efforts. It is based on the analysis of engagement profiles described earlier in this chapter (step 4: engage), and by defining different levels of communication activities depending on whether the current engagement position:

  • is equal to the optimal position (Figure 5.3);

  • is less than the optimal position (see stakeholder 2 in Figure 5.2);

  • is greater than the optimal position (see stakeholder 3 in Figure 5.2).

 

In the first instance where the current engagement position is equal to the optimal position, communication can be maintained at its current level: the defined level and frequency of regular reports, meetings, and presentations can be safely maintained.6[36] This might be flagged as ‘green’ in an organisation’s reporting schema as needs are being met. For the situation where the current engagement position is greater than the optimal position, two possible approaches need to be considered, depending on the engagement profile. In Figure 5.2, stakeholder 3 is rated as being well above the level of receptiveness to messages necessary for success of the activity, but at the appropriate level of support of the activity to ensure success. The decision the team has to make regarding stakeholder 3 is whether to reduce the level of information flowing to this stakeholder (and risk a reduction in support from this stakeholder) or to maintain the current level of communication. The decision can only be made in the light of the knowledge the team has gained during the preceding steps of the stakeholder analysis.

For the third category where the current engagement profile is less than the target position and the stakeholder is relatively important, the team needs to focus their efforts on heroic communication: stakeholder 2 (Figure 5.2) is in this category. This type of communication is generally needed for only a small percentage of stakeholders, but any effort expended on increasing the levels of support and receptiveness to the optimal position will significantly benefit the activity. Generally in this case, a number of different communication approaches need to be used. These approaches would supplement regular reports and meetings with special presentations or conversations and possibly even using the influence of other important but supportive stakeholders to deliver essential information. Multiple complex communication activities must be coordinated by a relationship manager. This responsibility could be assigned to the manager of the activity, a functional manager or a supportive senior stakeholder. The different approaches just described are summarised in Table 5.4.

 
Table 5.4 Targeted communication approaches

Engagement profile

Communication approach

Comments

Current attitude is equal to target attitude.

‘business as usual’ regular reports: situation ‘green’.

Existing communication package does not need to change.

Small gap between current attitude and target attitude.

‘business as usual’ +: situation ‘amber’.

Existing communication package may require some small additional communication effort.

Current attitude is greater than target attitude.

See analysis on stakeholder 3.

Communication approaches need to be defined specifically for stakeholders in this group.

Current attitude is less than target attitude.

‘heroic’: situation ‘red’.

Existing communication package may need to be significantly changed AND augmented by additional effort involving multiple approaches to ensuring more directed information about the activity is delivered to the stakeholder.

The Communication Plan

Based on each stakeholder’s engagement strategy, a communication plan can be developed. The communication plan should contain:

  • stakeholder name and role;

  • mutuality:

    • – how the stakeholder is important to the activity;

    • – the stakeholder’s stake;

    • – the stakeholder’s expectations.

     

  • categorisation of influence (upwards, downwards, outwards, sidewards, internal and external);

  • engagement profile preferably in graphical form (see Figure 5.2):

    • – level of support for the activity;

    • – level of receptiveness to information about the activity;

    • – target engagement: target levels of support and receptiveness.

     

  • strategies for delivering the message:

    • – who will deliver the message;

    • – what the message will be: regular activity reports or special messages;

    • – how it will be delivered: formal and/or informal, written and/or oral; technology of communication – emails, written memos, meetings;

    • – when: how frequently it will be delivered and over what timeframe (where applicable);

    • – why: the purpose for the communication: this is a function of mutuality – why the stakeholder is important for activity success, and what the stakeholder requires from the activity;

    • – communication item: the information that will be distributed that is, the content of the report or message.

     

 

Effective Communication

Communication is the primary tool for stakeholder engagement. The effectiveness of the communication is influenced by many factors including:

  • the relationship between sender and receiver;

  • other barriers to effective communication.

 

Relationship Between Sender and Receiver

Irrespective of how well the communication strategy and plan are crafted, other factors must be considered:

  • The different levels of power or influence between the team and the stakeholder: it may not be considered appropriate for an individual from the team to communicate with a stakeholder at a higher level in the organisation or the community outside the organisation:

    • – as a rule of thumb: the more powerful the stakeholder, the less detail and more focused the report or message should be.

    • – know their preferences: does the powerful stakeholder prefer graphical representation, spreadsheets, or words?

     

  • The role of the stakeholder:

    • – sponsor or other political activity supporters may require exception reports, briefing data sufficient to be able to defend the activity; and no surprises;

    • – middle managers who provide the activity with resources will need timeframes, resource data and reports on adherence to resource plans and effectiveness of resources provided; more comprehensive information;

    • – staff working on the activity and other team members need detailed but focused information that will enable them to perform their roles effectively;

    • – other staff need updates on progress of activity, particularly information on how it will affect their own work roles;

    • – external stakeholders will also require regular planned and managed updates on the activity, its deliverables, its impact, and its progress.

     

  • Credibility of the messenger and the message: the more the team has worked to build trust and a perception of trustworthiness and competence, the more readily a stakeholder will receive, and act on, information. Credibility of this nature takes time to develop and is often the result of previous positive experiences, a reputation for being trustworthy, or through being seen by stakeholders as delivering information in a proactive and timely manner, even if it is bad news.

  • The relevance of the information to the recipient: the team must ensure that information is of interest to the stakeholder and delivered in a manner that is most easily read and absorbed.

  • The format and content of the message: the most appropriate level of detail and presentation style will also assist in ensuring that information is received and responded to in the most suitable way.

 

Other Barriers

Some factors may act as barriers to effective communication: Those listed below can be managed through accessing information already available through data collection within the Stakeholder Circle methodology itself. Other factors, such as environmental and personal distractions may be temporary. Awareness of these factors and their consequences may drive the timing and context of the communication activity.

  • Personal reality: conscious and unconscious thought processes will influence how individuals receive and process any information they receive.

  • Cultural differences: differences in communication requirements may be caused by cultural norms influencing the preferred style of presentation, content, delivery of information. These differences may be:

    • – national;

    • – generational;

    • – professional;

    • – organisational.

     

  • Personal preferences: personality differences may also dictate the how and what of effective communication. A senior manager with limited available time and a preference for summary information will have no patience for information delivered as a story, whereas a team member or a stakeholder with a different personality style may find the delivery of facts not interesting enough.

  • Environmental and personal distractions will include:

    • – noise;

    • – lack of interest;

    • – fatigue;

    • – emotions: if either the sender or the receiver is ‘having a bad day’, or is feeling unhappy, it is better to postpone any face-to-face communication until another less emotive occasion.

     

 

Communicating to Unsupportive Stakeholders

A stakeholder who has been identified as being supportive should not be ignored or taken for granted, but should be given the appropriate information in the manner that best suits that stakeholder’s requirements.7[37] However, communication with stakeholders will require different techniques if they are:

  • unsupportive and unreceptive (see stakeholder 7 in Figure 5.5);

  • supportive but unreceptive (see stakeholder 8 in Figure 5.5);

  • ambivalent and receptive (see stakeholder 9 in Figure 5.5);

  • ambivalent and unreceptive (see stakeholder 1 in Figure 5.2).

 

A starting point should be:

  • How supportive does this stakeholder need to be? Is it necessary that they are very supportive, or is it sufficient that they are just not unsupportive? A benchmark of optimal support needs to be defined for these stakeholders. It is not essential for all stakeholders to be very supportive; in some cases a neutral profile is sufficient.

  • An analysis of the reason(s) for lack of support or receptiveness. This information should already have been documented in the stakeholder identification and prioritisation exercise(s):

    • – If the stakeholder is unsupportive of this activity because he/she is supportive of another competing activity, negotiation needs to occur to resolve the competition. If the stakeholder will not negotiate, the managers of the affected activities should work together to resolve the issue.

    • – If the stakeholder is too busy to receive information about the activity, and therefore will not read emails, or attend meetings, a number of options can be considered. Often busy managers will take a break for an informal coffee meeting, if not with the manager then with someone else who can deliver information, or seek support on behalf of the activity. Another technique for delivering information to busy managers is to have it included into a management meeting that this stakeholder considers important enough to attend.

     

  • A stakeholder, who is ambivalent but receptive to messages, may be prepared to act as a conduit to other stakeholders who are less receptive.

 

 
Figure 5.5 Engagement profile for stakeholders 7, 8 and 9

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Special or AD HOC Reports

Special or ad hoc reports are generally:

  • a requested update on activity progress, because the activity is high profile, or is perceived to not be delivering according to plan;

  • good news – activity delivered early, and/or within budget, a significant milestone has been achieved;

  • bad news – the activity is slipping, costing too much, a known risk event has occurred but contingency plans were unsuccessful, an unknown risk has occurred.

 

The rules of content, format, messenger for regular reports will apply to these ad hoc reports.

Special Groups, Broadcast or General Messages

In describing the actions necessary to develop a plan for appropriate communication to stakeholders, the focus has been on assuming that team members have access to their stakeholders. However, activities that an organisation initiates may impact large groups of stakeholders who are:

  • globally dispersed;

  • external organisations with contractual arrangements;

  • potentially disadvantaged by the activity or its outcomes; or who

  • require specialised information or specialised management.

 

In such cases, a corporate communications group must be briefed to prepare, manage and disseminate the messages on behalf of the team.

The discussions on preparation of messages to stakeholders has centred primarily on groups and individuals who have been prioritised as being relatively important to the success of the activity. It is essential to ensure that the stakeholders who are not considered as being in the relatively important category are not ignored. Such stakeholders will often merit broadcast or general messages. For example, a government body intending to resume land for public works or to renovate public buildings must ensure that notices of this intention are published in newspapers, to supplement other general messages.

Implementing Communication Plans

The contents of the communication plan should be:

  • available to all interested parties, especially stakeholders;

  • able to be amended when conditions change;

  • able to be monitored and measured.

 

The communication plan should state clearly who will deliver what message, when and under what circumstance to all identified stakeholders to the extent that the key communication points for each stakeholder and each messenger should be included in the activity schedule and reported against in activity team meetings.

Changes to The Communication Plan

When conditions change to the extent that the stakeholder community changes, it will be necessary to review and perhaps amend the communication plan to reflect any changes to the stakeholder community. The trigger points for making these changes will generally be:

  • the activity moves from one phase to another;

  • stakeholders change roles and no longer have an interest in or are no longer impacted by the outcomes of the activity;

  • stakeholders leave the organisation.

 

There may be other triggers for change. These should be defined in the process documentation (in the same way that they might be in risk management documentation. Both the stakeholder management plan and the communication plan should be stored in a format that allows approved/agreed amendments to be easily recorded.

Conclusion

In this chapter, guidelines for building the communication plan have been developed using the information and the results of the team’s analysis of their stakeholder community. The discussion of the diverse definitions of stakeholder engagement and attitude complemented other essential information such as importance, expectations and influence on the success of the activity gathered from the previous steps of the Stakeholder Circle methodology. From this, a targeted communication plan can be crafted for the most effective and efficient way to communicate, in order to build and maintain essential relationships. However, even though the plan is detailed and well supported from the information available about the stakeholder community, a plan that is not well implemented will not achieve the goals of engaging stakeholders for the benefit of the organisation and its activities. The next chapter will focus on monitoring and measuring the implementation and effectiveness of the team’s communication efforts.

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