Identifying and engaging with community stakeholders offers some unique challenges due to the fact they are external to your organisation. This can mean they are hidden and/or difficult to reach.
However, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them as they can substantially impact project success.
In this post, we look at how to identify and engage with community stakeholders important to your success.
How to Identify Key Community Stakeholders
Identifying your community stakeholders is similar to identifying stakeholders in any stakeholder engagement process: list all of the stakeholders and stakeholder groups you think might be relevant, then prioritise them.
At this stage, even if you think a particular stakeholder might not be important, keep them in the list. In the next step we identify which stakeholders are most important.
The Harvard Business Review suggests five questions you can use to identify which of your community stakeholders are most important.
Use these questions to order your big list of stakeholders by their impact on the project.
- Does the stakeholder have a fundamental impact on your organization’s performance? (Required response: yes.)
- Can you clearly identify what you want from the stakeholder? (Required response: yes.)
- Is the relationship dynamic — that is, do you want it to grow? (Required response: yes.)
- Can you exist without or easily replace the stakeholder? (Required response: no.)
- Has the stakeholder already been identified through another relationship? (Required response: no)
The community stakeholders you identify should be added to your stakeholder engagement matrix.
Community Stakeholders by Industry
Community stakeholder holders vary by industry but here are a couple of lists to get you started.
Even if you are not in either of their industries, check out the lists to prompt your thinking on relationships and groups that might be relevant to your project.
Businesses: the final customers of the education process – are students graduating with skills needed by industry.
Education Community Stakeholders
Students: receiving the education
Teachers: delivering the education
Student parents and caregivers: responsible for the students outside of the educational environment.
Parents and Citizens Associations: groups and associations of interested parties.
Curriculum developers (school or regional): responsible for deciding and designing what should be taught and how should it be taught
Educational researchers: academics and researchers who provide insights into the best methods and approaches.
Teachers’ unions: groups who represent the Teachers.
Taxpayers: responsible, at least in part, for paying for the educationCommunity stakeholders in education include:
Health Community Stakeholders
When building your list of community health stakeholders be sure to consider the following groups:
Researchers: scientists and allied medical researchers and their employers.
Insurers: public, not for profit and private insurance companies.
Users: people that will be using the healthcare system. This includes patients and health care personnel.
Government agencies: relevant local, state and national level government agencies.
Professional bodies: medical, nursing and scientific groups that represent the people in the healthcare settings.
Industry – commercial manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of health and related products.
Condition groups: groups who focus on a specific disease, health issue or physical state of being
Service providers: organisations that provide health care services, includes hospitals, medical practices and healthcare centres.
Why Engaging with Community Stakeholders Is Important
Failing to engage with community members can generate distrust and fear in the community, which can lead to opposition to your project. This opposition may be valid or not, but in the absence of information about the project community stakeholders will often imagine more negative outcomes and fewer positive ones.
On the other hand, engaging with community stakeholders helps you to gain a better understanding of the local community needs and resources. This in turn allows you to account for those needs in the project execution: either by modifying the project or working with community members to gain it’s acceptance.
Also, having properly engaged the local community leaders, they will often feel part of the project rather than having it forced upon them. This dynamic can mean that they will work to win over the rest of their communities, or at least help you to understand how to win over those communities.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to engage with these stakeholders as they may be difficult to identify and/or resistant to the overall project. They may also be unwilling or unable to invest time in the engagement process.
How to engage with Community Stakeholders
While each project will need a slightly different engagement process, as each community is slightly different. Research indicates three general approaches for community engagement.
In Community Investment the company invests in the community over and above that directly associated with the project. Investment can take many forms including building assets, providing services supporting the community in relevant ways and staff volunteering in the community of interest.
Importantly this approach is one-way: from the company to the community.
This is where the company starts two-way communication with the community stakeholders. Typically this will be via information sessions, working groups, surveys and the like.
As the communication is two way this style of engagement will typically be used to modify the project to help it become more useful or less objectionable to the community.
Here the company and community work tightly together to develop and even manage the project.
This style of engagement is time and resource-intensive. It is not appropriate for all projects due to the investment require
Improve your Stakeholder Communication with Automation Software
Building bridges and understanding how to communicate with stakeholders is an invaluable skill and is important to the overall project success. If you would like more information on how to improve your communication with stakeholders then feel free to get in touch with Swift Digital.
Swift Digital works with a number of public and private sector companies – including Government organisations, Universities and Utility companies– to improve their communications and stakeholder management.
Do you need help communicating with stakeholders? Or want to improve your stakeholder management process. Here at Swift Digital, we provide email automation services that can help facilitate your stakeholder communications and help to improve your stakeholder relationships.
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