Facilitating good stakeholder involvement with your consultations is imperative. Taking these steps before, and during, engagement with participants will lead to more positive stakeholder relations and better project outcomes.
It is not enough to create the framework to consult with stakeholders.
Groups and individuals that are needed to provide meaningful feedback related to your project need to be recruited. Both consultation methods and participant access must be considered in order to ensure interest and ability to contribute.
Stakeholder involvement also depends on the degree to which the outcomes of the project will affect those being consulted.
11 ways to encourage stakeholder participation
- Consult with community representatives first. When working with groups find out what the existing networks and structures are already in place to support community engagement.
- Identify community champions that can help promote the consultations and encourage participation.
- Research past consultations to understand the positions and interests of stakeholders, as well as identify potential challenges.
- Promote the consultation procedures and timelines to ensure everyone affected receives the messages. Use many channels. This will likely be via existing community newspapers, radio and websites, as well as social networks.
- Provide stakeholders with the background information they require to participate in a meaningful way.
- Understand your stakeholders barriers to access. What are the geographic limitations, access to technology, or time constraints involved?
- Ask good questions. How you ask consultation questions can be as important as what you ask. Fuel active participation from stakeholders by writing good questions
- Use the right language. Write concise consultation questions and background documents using plain language that can be understood by your intended audience. Avoid overly technical jargon. Ensure language used is culturally appropriate.
- Make sure questions aren’t creating a bias towards one answer. If the tone of your survey is balanced it will help generate feedback that reflects people’s actual attitudes
- Seek to consult with sincerity. Your stakeholders will know if a consultation activity is merely tokenism.
- Communicate with your stakeholders about who else is being consulted, and how their input will affect your company’s activities.
Challenges related to public consultation impact organizations from many industries including resource extraction and infrastructure development. Merely embarking on a community consultation initiative doesn’t mean an organization will receive the participation and feedback outcomes they hoped for.
Facilitating good stakeholder involvement in your consultations is imperative. Taking these steps before and during engagement with participants will lead to more positive stakeholder relations and better outcomes for your project.