Stakeholder Profiling Tips

I recently responded to a request for tips on how to profile stakeholders. Here is a quick summary that might help readers.

In my Stakeholder Reputation workshops I teach these tips:

1. Create a laundry list of all stakeholders – Identify and list all stakeholders. These may be individuals, or stakeholder groups, or some combination. If stakeholders can be treated as a group, use groups. The most effective way of doing this is to list as many stakeholders as you can on a working sheet of paper. Get inputs from various sources – managers, employees, stakeholders and do some literature research.

2. Divide list into primary, secondary, core, strategic stakeholders etc. Use categories as you see fit.

3. First segment them as either internal or external. Segmentation criteria can be based on issues, concerns, interests and/or demographics shared by the internal/external key stakeholders AND other criteria. Based on the criteria, key stakeholders can be sub-segmented into target audiences as well as the times and the places where the target audience is most likely to be exposed to and to attend to the message.

4. You could then use methods to map these, such as a linear list; a mind map, a geographical map (Google Maps) or a matrix hierarchy. These help us to visualize the information about stakeholders. Personally I like to use mind maps as they are always open ended, and as we all know stakeholders can change positions or develop alliances such as splinter groups. Read this post of mine for more clarification about stakeholder positions.

What is vital is to remember that Stakeholder involvement is context-specific; what works in one situation may not be appropriate in another; and that Stakeholders change per project, time or situation – never stay static. Thus in my opinion identification & prioritization exercises are on-going projects and vital to achieving any strategy.

Example: As a stakeholder I may be neutral on some issues, very vocal on others. I may change my position on a matter very rapidly due to new information that I have obtained. If you are of the opinion that I am on your side you might be wrong.

Better to stay aware. Stakeholder Management is a very volatile discipline with many factors that can affect the levels of engagement and relationships.

Find out more about the why and how of Stakeholder Management and its impact on organisational reputation by attending one my master classes. Next one – 22/23 February in Johannesburg.