Understanding Your Internal and External Customers
It has been well documented that many of us spend far too much time speaking with internal and external stakeholders who are not in a buying position/key decision maker. During my own personal journey I have found that there are many people who are interested to have a conversation with you however, they are not somebody in a position to sign off work. But what does this actually mean?
It is a great skill to be able to develop and manage relationships with a broad range of stakeholders, a skill which many of us possess. Although, all relationships should have a common goal e.g. internally, you may need a project to be signed off, so you’ll need to speak with the relevant stakeholders who are key decision makers. Alternatively, externally you may be selling a product/service to a potential customer and again, you’ll need to be speaking to someone who is in a buying position/decision maker.
As mentioned above there are many people who make a lot of noise and may be able to tell you all of the issues an organisation has/really like your product or service however, if they’re not in a senior position, it is likely that you’ll be wasting your time.
What is a simple way to manage stakeholders?
(Johnson et al, 2012) came up with a simple idea, which I like to refer to as being a “power of interest” model. This is an effective visual tool that allows you to map out your stakeholders into 4 quadrants. On the “Y” axis you will find your power level, ranging from low to high. On the X axis you will find the stakeholders level of impact/interest…
- Power – how much authority someone has internally. This will typically show if someone is a budget holder/key decision maker.
- Interest – this is a measure of how much impact or interest a stakeholder can have on a particular activity.
I’ve given an insight into each quadrant below…
- High power – high interest – most important stakeholder
o The most important stakeholder group within the model is the high power and high interest stakeholders. These are stakeholders that must be regularly engaged with. It is important that they have regular communication, as they can have a significant impact on business decisions.
- High power – low interest
o Another important stakeholder group defined by Johnson’s model is those that have high power but low interest. These stakeholders should be kept updated on key changes/plans however, it can be counterproductive to give them too much information – this is because they can make uninformed decisions due to their lack of interest.
- High interest – low power
o The next type of stakeholder in the model are those who have high interest but low power. These stakeholders should be communicated with regularly, in order to maintain engagement however, not at a strategic level.
- Low power – low interest – least important stakeholder
o Although this person is not likely to be a key decision maker, nor have a large interest/impact on your activity, they should still be communicated to at some stage.
3 simple benefits of using a model such as this:
- Useful for planning – Having a simple model to refer back to when looking at your communications plan is always useful, it can also drive actions.
- Allows you filter out stakeholders who may not be as important – It’s important to give the right information to the right stakeholder at the right level of frequency.
- Sign off/decisions – You can easily view who is your target stakeholder when it comes to sign off/key decisions. This enables you to spend time in the right areas.
As you’ll see from the cover photo, I have created a basic HR power of interest model – please feel free to reach out if you’d like me to share this with you as a template.
To conclude I am sure that we can all agree that spending time spending time in the right areas is only going to improve efficiency. If you’d like to learn more about stakeholder mapping/Rencai’s HR transformation expertise then please do reach out.
Client Relationship and Delivery Consultant