A data-backed approach to stakeholder engagement

It’s no secret that during times of change, getting people on board and involved with the transformation drastically increases the likelihood of success. As a result—and rightly so—creating stakeholder engagement plans is considered a staple to change management efforts.

However, traditional approaches to stakeholder engagement are largely subjective and often fall flat. Someone is tasked to create a list of the “key players” to involve and assumptions are made on how to engage them based on factors including their assumed level of resistance or support. In doing so, leaders run the risk of failing to recognize highly influential colleagues or engage them unproductively due to a misclassification.

To take a data-backed approach to engaging stakeholders, there are two critical factors to measure: voice and value.

  1. Voice refers to an employee’s influence in the organization – or to what extent s/he is trusted, respected and sought after for advice. These individuals are crucial for change success – research suggests that transformations are four times more likely to be successful when influential employees are involved.
  2. While there are several ways to measure voice, an easy way to do so is to ask employees to identify whom they go to in order to better understand what is going on in the organization. The answers can help you identify those individuals that are “influencers.”

  3. Value refers to how much of the value agenda—such as revenue, operating margin, capital efficiency—an individual role is responsible for capturing. When individuals that deliver significant value leave, it can have devastating effects on organizational performance – particularly as we’ve found that value tends to be concentrated among a small number of roles. Across sectors, regions and context, we have discovered a significant concentration of value in a relatively small number of roles.  A typical organization can expect that 50% of the value in their plans is addressed by 15-20 roles; pushing out to 40-50 roles will address ~ 75% of the value.

  4. Getting to the value held in each role requires allocating value to individual roles across business as usual, improvement initiatives and new opportunities for growth. These roles can be directly value generating, value enabling or risk mitigating. The emphasis here is to quantitatively identify a list of critical roles that disproportionately impact the organization’s performance.

How you engage stakeholders will vary based on their levels of voice and value:

  1. The critical few: These colleagues are mission critical to engage in the transformation as they are both widely respected and trusted and are responsible for capturing significant value for the organization. Involve them in the decision-making and shaping of the transformation.
  2. Microphones and megaphones: While these colleagues have wide influence across the organization, they are not in significant value-capture roles. Involve these colleagues in setting and refining the story and driving the “watercooler” conversations to generate energy and excitement.
  3. Value at risk: These colleagues are responsible for delivering significant value for the organization but are largely disconnected from their colleagues. The challenges here are twofold.Either the colleague is not “plugged in” enough to the organization to generate ideas and solutions that have a high likelihood of success, or, even if they come up with good ideas, their relative lack of influence within the organization make the ideas unlikely to be adopted. Leaders need to very quickly help “plug them in” to important parts of the network or find different leaders better able to take advantage of the organization’s knowledge and culture.
  4. Waiting to be shaped and deployed: These colleagues are not perceived as influential, nor are they currently delivering significant value for the organization. This creates an opportunity to deploy them on high value projects and activities where they can better connect with their peers and begin building their informal networks.

By segmenting the workforce using voice and value, an organization is able to tailor their change management efforts and increase the likelihood that employees are involved, engaged and supportive.

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