A high-quality stakeholder communications system can make all the difference to your consultation initiative.
What’s needed is the ability to track all communications generated from multiple departments and stakeholders; the necessity to generate detailed reminders about commitments for follow-up; the functionality to easily produce complex reports tailored to your project’s regulatory requirements; and the guarantee that all your data is safe and secure.
But making a decision about which stakeholder management system to adopt is just the first step.
It’s also important to set up the best reporting and tracking of your data from the start, and that means getting your employees and others who are affected by (and working with) the system on board from the beginning, collecting accurate data, developing a feedback loop and reporting on all the interactions that take place with various stakeholders.
You may have just a few people working with the public consultation software, or a large group spanning multiple departments or locations. To generate the best results for your initiative, it’s important to get everyone following the same protocol and taking ownership of their work.
Impacts of change
As a leader in your organization, when encouraging others to adopt a new system that supports your stakeholder consultation it’s important to consider the emotional impacts that change can have on your team.
Here are a few emotions employees might experience that could affect their engagement level – and have a negative impact on the implementation of a new system:
- Confusion about the changes taking place and the potential impact on their job
- Shock because they may not have been advised of the change
- Worry that it will mean more work
- Frustration because they weren’t trained to use the software properly
- Indifference because they don’t understand the value of a new system or why it’s necessary
Good communication with staff and consultants who will be working with the stakeholder management system is imperative. As with any change, in order to engage your team they need to feel they are part of the decision-making process and that their feedback is being considered throughout the consultation initiative.
5 tips for getting your team on board and working productively from the earliest stage
- Communicate: Provide lots of advance notice about a new system, and involve your team in a preview. Show staff how it will generate reports easily and will save them time. Explain why data needs to be tracked in this way, and the effect it will have on the success of the stakeholder consultation long-term.
- Assign a leader: It’s not enough to train a few staff on how to use the program; someone needs to be responsible for the system and those using it. They need to have skills to manage people and data. Otherwise there is a lack of ownership and the effectiveness of the system may be compromised over time.
- Involve a few key people in the implementation: These will be your influencers and advisors to your team. They will be involved in the training of other team members, learning the system well and being able to trouble-shoot for others. It’s ideal to have them involved at the earliest stage.
- Develop a Protocol Document
- Remove barriers: Address any barriers that might pose threats to getting everyone on board early in the process. Otherwise the usefulness of the data collected can be compromised. What are the obstacles to effective adoption of a new system by your team? Is it people, workflow, training?
- Revisit and adjust over time: Needs may change over time during a complex, long-term stakeholder consultation that has lots of moving parts. It’s important to revisit the requirements of the initiative, and the people involved.
If possible, start off with one department and expand its usage from there.
Rolling it out slowly ensures more effective adoption and more consistency. As each business unit gets on board, you should have one or two people from each department with a high degree of system training, and they in turn will become champions and advisors to other team members.
Another great best practice is developing periodic “super-user” meetings where the leaders from each department cooperate to revisit the program and the integration between departments.
StakeTracker is an advanced, custom designed stakeholder tracking and public consultation software solution that helps organizations efficiently manage all of the interactions and communication they conduct with stakeholders, the community, and the public.
StakeTracker is easy to use and specifically handles all the “curve balls” the public consultation process can throw your way, especially as time and distance are increased.