Whenever I’m working with a coachee on the topic of influencing or communication, one of the best places to start is to work through a form of stakeholder mapping. It’s a great tool for drawing out all of the people that need to be influenced, which then helps identify appropriate communication plans.
If you’re trying to build engagement to your project or looking to secure commitment from others to your idea, this really is a great starting point. Here’s the rough outline of the key steps;
Step 1 – Brainstorm ALL of the people what will be impacted, or who you need to engage with. I like to use post it’s for this bit, with one person per post it note. Some of your stakeholders might be groups or departments. That’s fine but if you can it’s more useful to think of the individuals that you’d be dealing with. Most likely you’re talking to people rather than whole departments or organisations.
Step 2 – For each of the stakeholders that you’ve now got think about how they CURRENTLY feel about your idea or project. A traffic light system is a great way of doing thus;
- Red – critics; people that are critical or negative
- Amber – neutral; people that are ambivalent
- Green – advocates; people that already positively support the idea.
Step 3 – You now need to make yourself a grid like this.Using the following questions, decide where you would place them on the grid;
- What level of interest do they have in this?
- How much power do they have over this?
Step 4 – If I were you, I’d take a snap shot of this picture, because this represents where your stakeholders are currently. The next step is to think about where you need them to be. Here’s some things to consider at this stage;
- Which people are currently low interest, but need to be higher for the success of your idea or project?
- Which of your critics and neutrals are key to your success i.e. high interest and lots of power?
- Are there any advocates with lots of power and interest that could help you?
Step 5 – You can use a grid like this one to plan your communication, making sure to prioritise those people who sit in the top right hand corner;
- What do I need to do to manage these people closely?
- If there are critics, or neutrals in your top right hand corner, you need to think about what you can do to change their perception and opinion of your idea or project
Where you go after this is really up to you – but I guarantee working through your stakeholders in this way will give you a great starting point for thinking about what you can do to get them on board.
I’ve got a free worksheet on this – PM or email me if you’d like a copy.