Successful Community Engagement. The Formula!

Successful Community Engagement. The Formula!

Involving the community in your projects and decision-making is something that creates… apprehension, for many. But is there a way to ensure success?

Involving the community in your projects and decision-making is something that creates… apprehension, for many. But is there a way to ensure success?

Successful Community Engagement can build relationships, drive innovation and create advocates and support for your projects. Whereas, no engagement, poorly planned or reactive Community Engagement will create confusion, frustration, delays, and sometimes even outrage.

If you’re not sure where to start there’s a formula to creating successful engagement. If I had to write it as an equation, it would be – QE + QP = SE.

Or, a Quality Environment + a Quality Process = Successful Engagement

Creating a quality environment for engagement before you start and the quality of the process you plan, are the two biggest elements of successful community engagement.

Here’s how to create a Quality Environment:

Know what ‘engagement’ is – Engagement is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s important to know what it is before you start.

Be genuine –The greater your respect for a community’s right and ability to participate, the greater your chance of success.

Develop relationships first – Getting to know your stakeholders is the first step. It’s never a good start if you only go to stakeholders when you want something.

Be transparent – This is all about committing to being open.

Encourage diversity – You should deliberately aim to involve as many people as you can. The best results will come from involving all your audiences to share ideas, innovate and ‘normalise’ the conversation.

Create an engagement management system – Once you start engaging you need to manage it and support your staff with processes, systems, strategy and capability development.

Here’s how to create a Quality Process:

Identify and analyse the stakeholders – If you do nothing else, getting a better understanding of your stakeholders will help your effectiveness, a lot.

Be responsive? – This is all about providing good customer service.

Be clear about the background – history, and the current context can influence your engagement process – especially where the process should start.

Develop capability –your capability and your team’s capability (if you have one). Staff at all levels and roles play a role in a good engagement process.

Be purposeful – or is there an outcome you’re after? There should be a clear purpose to why you are engaging and everyone should be clear about that purpose.

And finally…

Have a plan – Creating, implementing and constantly reviewing your plan will keep your process relevant and on track.

Of course, some of the items above are easier to achieve than others. And perfection is a difficult thing to achieve in Community Engagement! However, improving your approach to the areas above even a little bit will improve your success a lot.

Click here to access your Community Engagement Success Checklist.