Project Management

Stakeholder Engagement: A Practical Guide

Perhaps this is the era of sharing – shared value, that is. An article for The Guardian by Petra Kuenkel explores the promising nature of collaboration and stakeholder engagement. Management strategists have begun to see the convergence of values and the potential for cross-sector collaboration, meaning there’s a potential for businesses around the world to expand the pool of shared social and economic value. This partnership between businesses and other sectors is a reliable indicator of sustainable development.

The Social Connection

Business performance is often a function of the society it rests upon. Companies that realize this trend tend to reap the rewards, while businesses who show up late to the game find that social welfare isn’t the only asset damaged. If organizations are looking for a tried and true formula, they may be out of luck, but Kuenkel says there are a few predictable shortcomings that can be avoided.

Making the Engagement

For instance, external stakeholder engagement requires a skilled public relations component that is often lacking in companies that are internally focused. Another missing skill is strategy. Maintaining stakeholder relationships is ideally a core business function. And once stakeholders are engaged, businesses should take great pains to have a focused and coherent message. Major companies like Coca-Cola and Nestlé are forging the way, but this is still a tentative and rocky beginning for stakeholder engagement.

The strategy recommended by Kuenkel for improved stakeholder relations involves a plan that is issues-based, is proactive rather than reactive, is based on learning to produce tangible results, creates measurable internal benefits for the company, and is based on sound methodology.

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