Who Do I Engage When and How? Here’s the 8 Step Engagement Planning Process.
An engagement plan should be developed in the earliest stages of a project.
Stakeholders impacted by a project are always unique and therefore the approach to engaging with them should be unique. So it’s disappointing to see the same approach to engagement rolled out by organisations again and again – specifically, lets cue the information session, media release, and survey… If you’re unsure of how you should be engaging with, when and how to engage them an engagement planning process will help you identify the answers.
No wonder over engagement and engagement fatigue are terms discussed now. In my opinion, stakeholders aren’t sick of being engaged they’re sick of non-genuine tick box exercises, that lack any purpose or creativity.
Using the same approach every time you attempt to engage stakeholders, will probably result in the following:
- You are unlikely to get a positive outcome or response.
- Stakeholders will not be satisfied and may not participate.
- Stakeholders will not want to engage constructively … and may cause problems as they seek to raise the issues that matter to them
A good result for an organisation and it’s stakeholders requires some research, great planning and creativity. The good news is that engagement planning is a straightforward process, once you have the skills.
Do you have an engagement plan that doesn’t seem to be producing results? Click below to see how you can get your current plan reviewed by The Community Studio.
Here are the 8 steps to creating an engagement plan.
1.Define the background and context
The first stage of developing a plan is researching and recognising the background. For example, have stakeholders been engaged before? What is the starting point for your stakeholders? Is there a history of frustration and/or anger attached to your project. Understanding the background will help you establish the right starting point for you and your stakeholders.
2.Stakeholder identification and analysis
A fundamental principle of developing an effective engagement plan is to accurately identify and understand the stakeholders in your projects. In my book, there is no greater superpower than knowing how to analyse your stakeholders. There are several phases to this stage as investing time to thoroughly understand your stakeholders will certainly pay off.
3.Scope the decision
After looking at the background and your stakeholders you will have the data to define what is negotiable and non-negotiable in your project. That is, what are the things that are set in stone (budget for example) and where are stakeholders able to influence the final outcome in a meaningful way.
4.Define your vision, outcomes and objectives
This is where you define your goal posts. Your outcome identifies what the end is – what will be achieved. Objectives are the stepping stones that will get you there.
By now you know all about the background, stakeholders, and what you are (and aren’t) engaging on. Now it is time to choose the tools and processes that acknowledge and overcome constraints, take advantage of synergies. Most importantly choose a process(es) that will bring you to the desired outcome. Like all implementation plans, this one should have tasks, timelines and budget assigned.
There will always be risk. Identify potential risks and develop a management strategy so you can work through it.
Identify your internal decision makers and map out the governance arrangements for any stakeholder groups (reference/advisory groups etc) you have identified in your implementation plan.
Evaluation should be planned early so methods can be implemented during the process, and not retrofitted. A good evaluation approach will let you know what worked and what didn’t, so you can improve the process in future.
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