As we’ve written about in the past couple of weeks, all eyes are on leaders in a time of uncertainty. How a leader acts, presents themselves, and communicates echoes throughout the organization (and any outside stakeholders).
Having a stakeholder management strategy in place is a surefire way to give a sense of unity and direction to all of your stakeholders; especially in a time of turmoil. A stakeholder management strategy generally relates to individual projects or campaigns. However, a founder can use a stakeholder management plan to oversee their communication.
As the team at MindTools writes, “Stakeholder management is the process of maintaining good relationships with the people who have the most impact on your work. Communicating with each one in the right way can play a vital part in keeping them on board.”
The goal of your startup stakeholder communication plan should be to give everyone the information they need to understand direction, goals, and to feel a sense of cohesiveness. For a startup, we can boil down a stakeholder management strategy into 5 unique groups: team, investors, board of directors, advisors/mentors, and customers.
As a CEO or Founder it is your job to set the tone for communication and delegate or own different stakeholder groups as needed. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when setting a stakeholder management and communication strategy:
Keep it Predictable
When it comes to setting up a stakeholder management strategy one of the key components is to keep it as predictable as possible. Set a specific cadence with each stakeholder group so they can expect when they’ll be receiving an email update, phone call, report, etc.
Not only will a predictable cadence help your stakeholders, it will help you as a founder as well. We have found that by committing to a schedule it will help hold you accountable and build good habits. If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with a team communication strategy, check out our “Friday Note” template.
Apples to Apples
We often preach that it is vital to keep things consistent from update to update, especially when communicating with your investors. The same can be said when developing your stakeholder management strategy. If you commit to sharing a certain metric or context, be sure to keep it consistent throughout.
If you are sharing a certain metric, lay out how it is calculated in your first correspondence and stick to it. Questions and a lack of trust will start to form if the calculations or metrics you are sharing begin to change on a regular basis.
Set the Tone
As we mentioned earlier, a stakeholder management strategy is intended to help your different stakeholder groups understand direction, goals, and feel a sense of cohesiveness. In turn, this should also increase productivity and allow employees and stakeholders to build trust with their leaders.
When a founder or leader takes an action, it often reverberates throughout the organization. Keep this in mind when setting up a management and communication strategy for different stakeholder groups. If you want to establish a certain value or action in your company, your stakeholder management strategy is a great place to start.
A Note on Remote Work
In the wake of recent turmoil, more companies are transitioning to remote work. When working remote for the first time, having a sound stakeholder management and communication strategy is more important than ever. There is not such thing as too much communication, especially when all of your stakeholders are feeling the stress and anxiety of our current situation. To learn more about remote work, check out our 9 favorite posts here.
If you think you’re ready to implement a stakeholder communication and management strategy, head over to our Update Template Library to see examples for how to best communicate with your investors, team, board members, and more.