Management Tool: Guide for Getting to Know Your Stakeholders

One of your many tasks as a new manager is to get a good understanding of the context in which you are operating, who the key players are, and what they expect from you.  Some of this will happen naturally over time, but you can accelerate the process by taking a systematic approach.  This guide gives you a framework for identifying who your stakeholders are, gathering information from them in a friendly and informal way, and developing an action plan to ensure that you're meeting the expectations of the people who have the most influence on your career success.  This approach is particularly useful for brand-new managers, but it can be used any time there is a significant shift in your organizational context, such as a new product line, new marketing strategy, or a company reorg.

Download your free Stakeholder Analysis Tool for Managers guide here.

his tool can be used at any time, but it can be particularly helpful in your first 90 days a manager to help you identify all of the people you need to build effective relationships with, and how to do so efficiently.

Step 1: Identify your stakeholders.

Identify all of your key stakeholders, all of the people, teams, and organizations who directly affect, care about, are impacted by, and/or pay attention to this team's work.  For each group, identify the key people you can meet with to get information about what matters to this particular stakeholder group.

Step 2: Schedule meetings. 

Schedule a half-hour meeting with each key contact.  These meetings should take place sooner rather than later, and definitely before you reach the 90-day mark.  If you have the option, it can be helpful to schedule the meetings in the following order to help inform your subsequent conversations:

  • Senior leadership (probably involves you reviewing documents rather than actually meeting with someone)
  • Your boss (may also include information about your boss’s boss; may want to schedule a full hour due to importance)
  • Customers
  • Internal Partners
  • Employees (could be part of regular one-to-one meetings)
  • Departments your team interacts with

Step 3: Conduct interviews.

Conduct interviews with each contact.  The goal is to be able to fill in the Stakeholder Analysis Chart, but your questions may vary depending on whom you’re speaking with and what you’ve already learned from others. Questions you can ask your stakeholders include:

  • What's working well?  What do you hope stays the same?
  • What's not working so well?  What do you hope will change?
  • What is most important for our team to focus on?
  • What's one thing I could change that would improve things for you (or your team)?
  • What should I be aware of?

Tip: This process is designed to build trust as well as to gather information, so it’s important to listen even if you already know what the person is going to say.  You want them to feel heard, and for their feedback to be reflected in your subsequent action plans.

Step 4: Analyze the data.

Analyze the data you’ve gathered.  Review your Stakeholder Analysis Chart.    

  • What were the key themes that kept coming up?
  • What surprised you?
  • What will be most important for you to focus on in the next six months or so?
  • What will be important for you to reinforce/keep in place?
  • What are your plans going forward?

Step 5: Report back to your stakeholders.

The format of your report-outs will vary depending on the group, and you will need to use your judgment.  The key is for them to feel like you really listened and that their concerns were factored in to your plans.  You may want to highlight any feedback you got from them that you will not be acting on, so that you can explain why.

Related Posts