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13 Ways To Better Keep Stakeholders In The Communications Loop

Updated: May 31, 2021

Whether internal team members or external partners and investors, business stakeholders play a key role in your company’s growth trajectory. These individuals can provide valuable resources and insights to help you solve problems and keep scaling, but only if they are kept in the loop about what’s happening at the company.

How can you ensure that your stakeholders are well-informed and engaged in your business? Try these tried-and-true strategies recommended by the members of Forbes Coaches Council.

1. Base The Type Of Update On The Business Context

It depends on the type of stakeholder, the level and frequency of communication being asked for and your business context. Visual updates, such as an infographic, can be powerful. For written communication, create a blog focusing on the key concerns stakeholders have highlighted, opportunities taken and wins that have occurred. Consider recording your updates and distributing them. - Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

2. Create Agreed-Upon Stakeholder Maps For Projects

Before any project or assignment, I would ensure that we have an agreed-upon stakeholder map and communication plan linked to it. This can be shared with all stakeholders following the analysis; and if people want more or less communication, they can notify you to adjust. - Andrew Constable, Visualise Solutions

3. Tailor Meetings To Engage Different Stakeholders

Be open and transparent. Two suggestions are to hold quarterly “state of the business” meetings with all stakeholders and to have monthly “birthday breakfasts” with all employees to celebrate that months’ birthdays with the top leaders of the firm. In today’s environment, these would be virtual. - Jay McDonald, Middleton McDonald Group, Inc.

4. Show And Tell With Short Video Updates

If you want to be seen and heard, then show and tell. Make your updates camera-ready. Be super focused on one piece of information that is worth sharing. A short clip doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production. Make it personal, meaningful and 30 seconds long. You can even use video as a sidebar to an article. As humans, we want to see and understand, so provide that opportunity with video. - Robin Blakely, Creative Center of America

5. Ask How Stakeholders Want To Be Kept In The Loop A more important question to be asking is, “How do my stakeholders want to be kept in the loop?” Leaders often assume that their stakeholders want daily updates or to be invited to weekly stand-ups, or that they enjoy in-depth recaps each fortnight—but they may not! Check in with stakeholders to find out what their preferred method of “staying in the loop” is. They’ll appreciate it so much more. - Shadé Zahrai, Influenceo Global Inc.

6. Consistently Schedule Meaningful Updates Provide consistent updates that are scheduled and meaningful. Whether in a group or a one-to-one setting, it is tremendously impactful when leaders are able to update their stakeholders on their progress. This also contributes to a culture of supporting each other, as leaders are setting a positive tone, which will help team members become more comfortable updating others on their own progress. - Bryan Powell, Invite Change

7. Designate Q&A Time On Conference Calls Keeping stakeholders informed is an important part of an organization’s formula for success. Plan a phone call or video conference specifically for stakeholders. Share important information, sales, progress and plans for the future. Designating a time for Q&A allows them to feel part of the team. It is also an appropriate time to ask a few stakeholders for their input. - Deborah Hightower, Deborah Hightower, Inc.

8. Create A Predictable Rhythm Of Communication Create a predictable rhythm with regular communications, both written and oral. Knowing there will be a group call every week or an email every other day keeps stakeholders more in the loop and, equally important, also makes them feel that they are always in the loop. It also helps to build transparency and trust, which are two valuable commodities. - Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions

9. Develop A Strategy For Each Stakeholder Create a stakeholder map and plot people on it in terms of the level of support and the level of impact. Use this graphic to develop a strategy for each stakeholder. Ask them directly about their expectations. If you’re not able to connect directly with each stakeholder, then ask a peer or colleague how they like to receive information. Short and sharp? Long and detailed? At what frequency? Take the guesswork out. - Susan Sadler, Sadler Communications LLC

10. Take A Bottom-Up Approach I recommend a bottom-up approach so that your stakeholders are at the table making the decisions with you. This reduces resistance and increases ownership. I realize that everybody cannot be in the room, so I ensure that every stakeholder group is represented. Then, each of those people becomes the credible conduit for his or her stakeholder group. - Eugene Dilan, DILAN Consulting Group

11. Suggest A Communication Plan They Can Respond To Ask, and don’t assume. Find out directly from your stakeholders what information they want to receive from you, how often they want to receive this info and in what format. You can share ideas for them to respond to. For example: “I can provide you with a weekly, one-page summary that includes what support I need from you and what our potential risks are. We can then meet every other week to discuss.” - Sandy Schwan, Evolving Strategies LLC

12. Diversify Your Communication Channels Diverse communication channels should be used to better keep key stakeholders in the loop. Consider the nature of the message as well as the interaction required of the stakeholder upon receipt. Identifying the proper channel for each message will help ensure the communication is properly received. There are times where the use of multiple channels for the same message may make sense. - Lindsay Miller, Reverie Organizational Development Specialists

13. Provide A Recap Every Time Think about your stakeholder communications as you would a daytime drama: Recap where you’ve been before, share where you are, and then say where you’re going next. Just because someone attended a meeting or saw an email doesn’t mean that it was translated into understanding or action. Repetition is the heart of learning, and it also builds trust. Tell the story of what you’re doing consistently, again and again. - Darcy Eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution

Expert Panel® Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.



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