Master Your Stakeholders in 8 Simple Steps

A stakeholder is someone, or a group, that has an interest or concern in something. Managing stakeholders can be tricky. Stakeholders include different business partners, employees, senior management (the board), shareholders, the public, and lobby groups among others. There are stakeholders in most business activities and projects, and the interest each has can be very different. This conflict between diverse interests of stakeholders can make it quite challenging for an HR or Payroll professional to do their job efficiently. This is particularly true if one stakeholder thinks another stakeholder is getting a better deal. Managing stakeholders effectively to the point that you can master this is essential to achieving HR or Payroll success. Here at JGA Recruitment, many of the Payroll or HR vacancies we handle require individuals to have “excellent stakeholder management skills” so, here are eight steps you can take to master your stakeholders:

  1. UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR STAKEHOLDERS ARE – often mastering stakeholders is an activity that falls at the very first hurdle, since certainly, it will be impossible to master those that you are not aware of. Spend some time having a brainstorm to get to the bottom of who has an interest or concern in what you are doing. Stakeholders for HR and Payroll professionals often includes the managers and employees in the departments that are served, the senior management team, shareholders, HR colleagues and your HR manager, (among others). In a partnership environment, you may have many bosses so understanding the requirements of each and getting to know them well can be critical to ensuring you can deliver an excellent service in line with stakeholder expectations.
  2. PINPOINT YOUR STAKEHOLDERS’ INTERESTS – mastering your stakeholders will be difficult if you are unsure what their interests are. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to ask them, and in others, not – on occasion, these interests may also be closely tied to office politics. Nonetheless, if you can deduce specific stakeholder interests to satiate their requirements, then you can then find ways to manage these effectively.
  3. DEFINE THE LEVEL OF STAKEHOLDER INTEREST – while all stakeholders have an interest in what you are doing, some have more of interest than others. Those that have more of interest have the potential to be trickier to manage as well. You might choose to rank stakeholders between 1 and 10 with one being the highest level of interest and ten the lowest. This will help you isolate who may need closer management and why.
  4. ASSESS STAKEHOLDER POWER – some stakeholders have more power than others. This usually makes them more challenging to master, and especially if they are highly interested too, as they will want to know everything that is going on. Those that have more power have more influence. They can stop you in your tracks if they are not efficiently managed. Knowing who these stakeholders are and what they want is critical in mastering their management. The CEO has high power, but often may have relatively low interest in lower level HR or Payroll activities you are undertaking (unless you get their payroll wrong, in which case their interest may increase quite suddenly)!
  5. PLOT STAKEHOLDERS ON THE POWER INTEREST GRID – once you have all the information you can chart your stakeholders by the strategy you will take to mastering them. If they have high power and low interest, your strategy must be to keep them satisfied. With low power and low interest, you only need monitor stakeholders. Where there is high interest and low power, keeping stakeholders informed makes it easier to manage them. The most difficult stakeholders will be those with the most power and the most interest. These stakeholders need to be closely managed as they have both the power and interest to quash projects if they so desire.

6. PRIORITISE STAKEHOLDERS – all stakeholders are important, but some are likely to be more important than others in different scenarios. For example, if managing a problematic reward management situation such as a pay freeze, one of the key stakeholders may be the manager who must pass the information over to the team. Another significant stakeholder may be a key person with talent that the organisation does not want to lose. Understanding who is most important to manage in any given situation will make it easier for you to manage stakeholder issues more effectively overall.

7. DEVELOP A COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY – mastering your stakeholders is all about communication. Letting your stakeholders know what you are doing and why and doing this in a timely manner will help you to manage their expectations more comfortably. This is because to some degree you will be able to control when they react to your activities by telling them at a specific time. Consider the power interest grid when communicating with stakeholders – not all stakeholders want the tiniest of details all the time. Your HR director probably does not want to know about one person leaving the organisation. However, they do want to have flagged up to them a potential employee retention issue across an entire department. Use some common sense with this.

8. SEEK OPPORTUNITIES TO PLEASE – finally, mastering stakeholders should involve sharing good news too. Finding ways to go the extra mile to impress your stakeholders can be useful for your career, and can keep those troublesome stakeholders off your back too. Being more proactive about helping stakeholders achieve their goals is likely to be good for your reputation, so it is worth looking for ways to do this.

Ultimately, the key is to get to know your stakeholders early. Failure to recognise who they are or what power they yield could be costly, whereas understanding their motivations and aspirations and supporting these could put you on a fast-track road to success and development.

The question is, do you know who your key stakeholders are???

As always, whether you love payroll or love HR, love what you do, work smart and work hard – just be careful not to overdo it. 😊

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This article was written by Nick Day, Managing Director at JGA Recruitment – the UK’s Premier Payroll & HR Recruitment Consultancy

If you are looking for expert talent in the fields of Payroll, HR or Reward, then please call me or email me and I would be delighted to discuss how we can help.

Nick Day | Managing Director

JGA Recruitment | JGA Payroll & HR Recruitment

Email: [email protected] | Tel: 01727 800 377

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