Who has the most influence over the success of your business?

This article is about understanding the stakeholders in your business and how we can influence them.

What is a stakeholder?

According to BusinessDictionary.com, stakeholders in general are “…a person, group or organization that has interest or concern in an organization”. In general, the word stakeholder refers to the business, its investors, employees, customers and suppliers. In broader terms, it also includes the community, government and trade associates.

In a video by David Butter on Stakeholder Management, he defines a stakeholder as someone who can make or break a company. In other words, they’re either with the company and make things happen or they can kill the company.

Oftentimes, companies are passionate about getting close to their customers and making sure that they are given what they want. But the definition mentioned above implies that because stakeholders can either make or break a company, it is therefore important to also have a high level of passion with working with them.

Who are the key stakeholders?

As mentioned above, stakeholders are typically any person that has an interest or concern in an organization and consists of a few categories. But who are the key stakeholders? Key stakeholders, as the word ‘key’ implies refer to the main people that can help a company’s planning effort succeed or fail by providing key information and resources.

Different companies have different stakeholders. Some consider their Senior Leadership Team – CEO, COO, CFO as key stakeholders while others have customers, owners, investors, creditors, directors, etc. as part of their key stakeholder list.

With that said, it is critical to identify who the key stakeholders are in your company to better address them and work with them to get things done.

How can we influence them?

And because stakeholders have a say on the company, it is also very important that a company engages them to align interests and avoid conflict during the planning process.

One of the best ways to do this is by developing a One-Page Plan (1PP) for each stakeholder. The 1PP will help simplify the process when deciding on which actions and steps are appropriate to meet the needs of each stakeholder and ensure a smooth relationship going forward.

Another way of influencing your key stakeholders is to compare yourself to the competition against the criteria that key stakeholder groups require. How does your company fare against the competition when it comes to engaging key stakeholders? Are you willing to listen, meet and exceed their expectations? Will you consider changing some things in your company as a result of engaging with your stakeholders?

Managing and engaging your stakeholders is relevant to any organization. It plays an important part in the success of any company.

Who has the most influence over your business? Have you had meaningful discussions with them lately?

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