For any business to succeed, stakeholders must be well taken care of. These are your clients, suppliers, partners, investors, employees and the broad community who have an interest in your business. When a stakeholder is not taken care of, the effects can be felt in various parts of the business.
Building strong relationships with stakeholders and maintaining them takes effort, time and a well thought out action plan. Below are six tips you can use both to build and maintain healthy stakeholder relationships.
1. Actively build strong relationships from the start
You know what you would like to achieve, and you know what it will take to achieve that vision.
Share this vision with your stakeholders on a more regular basis than you typically would. Don’t wait for structured meetings, use every opportunity you have with them to get them on the same page.
2. Involve your stakeholders
Yes, it may be your vision but remember its execution and success depends on how enthusiastic your stakeholders are.
Ask for their advice. A very powerful question you can ask is, “How can we best serve you…?” the answer is forward looking and guess what, you have a real chance of doing what is asked.
3. Schedule periodic touch-base sessions
We sometimes underestimate the importance of staying top of mind, especially where clients are concerned. To support the first tip of actively building strong relationships outside structure, have a structure built in as well.
Regular meetings keep you and your stakeholders on the same page and this means you are able to pick up on potential challenges before they even arise.
4. Keep your word
Do you deliver on your promises? When you say you will call back, do you call back? When you say you will have something important finished by a particular time, do you do it?
If you want to build lasting stakeholder relationships, do what you said you would do. Remember it is about your integrity, your trustworthiness and the respect you have for yourself and the other person.
5. Have an open mind
When you are after win-win relationships, understand that the job of the other party is not to feed your ego. They will have contradictory opinions, they will say things you don’t like, accept that.
It is actually a good thing because the last thing you want is to surround yourself with ‘ego feeders’ who don’t help you grow. Always have the big picture in mind and listen to suggestions, thank people for their inputs and genuinely consider what they have to say.
6. Address issues as and when they arise
There is nothing worse than hearing about a ‘transgression’ months after the said event took place. Not only may you have forgotten about it, but also the fact that the other person brings it up says a lot. In keeping with positive relationship building with all your stakeholders, make sure you are open and transparent. If something is bothering you, talk about it and clear the air.
When you approach all your stakeholder relationships with the view to continuously improve them, the other party will know it and this will set the bar on how they respond to you.
In business, you need more allies and champions than adversaries. For your vision to be realised, you must constantly work on your relationships.