How to Lose Stakeholder Support in 3 Quick Steps

Every organization has an ecosystem of both internal and external stakeholders. At PeopleResults, we work with our clients on projects to identify stakeholders and recommend ways to engage those stakeholders effectively. When your stakeholders are engaged and support your project, they provide the resources you need to accomplish your goals. Without stakeholder support, you lose their resources and backing.

From years of experience, these are the fastest ways to disenfranchise your stakeholders…whether intentional or not.

  1. Don’t communicate

When leaders don’t communicate, people make information up. It’s natural human behavior. The information we create in our heads is often not accurate. This can lead to false expectations and/or misunderstandings.

Leaders may think they have communicated the information, or may have shared it with one audience, but not all of the necessary stakeholder groups.

Recommendation: Build a communication plan that maps key messages to each stakeholder group multiple times.

Tip: Do not rely on cascading messages. It never works. For example: Don’t expect a manager to tell their employees the information.

  1. Send conflicting messages

Information comes out from different groups without realizing that the messages are not aligned. Group #1 may tell me to take an action that is difficult or complicated, while Group #2 asks me for a favor or some help.

Recommendation: When building the communications and engagement plan, factor in multiple projects going on throughout your organization. Build it from the perspective of what the receiver needs to hear, not what your project needs to say.

Tip: The experience of the stakeholder is paramount (ex: the employee experience, or the candidate experience).

  1. Fail to evolve

Because something has operated in a certain way effectively for X number of years does not mean it can’t or shouldn’t change. If 2020 taught the world anything, it’s that we all COULD adapt to new and different circumstances when the pandemic forced us to do so. You and your stakeholders are fundamentally different in 2021 and beyond. You must approach things with a different mindset now. We are not going back to the world pre-pandemic.

Recommendation: Experiment. Try new and different ways of doing things and see what works. Adjust, then adapt again. This is what authentic leadership looks like in the world we live in now.

Tip: Reward leaders who adapt and adjust. You’ll see much more of it as a result.

Betsy Winkler is a partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @betsywinkler1.