L&D has become not only an HR topic, but also a business topic. Organisational learning is now the engine to drive your organisation’s strategic priorities and fuel growth. How equipped are you for this more strategic role?
Learn how to polish your positive influencing skills to engage stakeholders, achieve your goals and make business impact.
Reading time: 6 minutes
Welcome to the L&D revolution. L&D is no longer an HR topic; it’s a business topic. Over the last two years, senior leaders are involving L&D in discussions on workforce planning and business strategy. LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning survey confirmed this trend: 72% of L&D leaders reported to have a more strategic role. And 87% are involved with helping their organisation to change.
Taking your seat at the strategic leaders’ table requires new skills.
Enter stakeholder engagement and positive influencing skills.
How confident are you when influencing senior stakeholders? Do you take a strategic approach to stakeholder engagement? And can you demonstrate with confidence that learning programmes future-proof the business?
We know it’s not easy. Especially in today’s workplace. Frequent change and uncertainty, the decrease in importance of positional authority and hybrid and remote communication patterns can all make influencing more challenging.
Master positive influencing for game-changing results. And the first step of positive influencing? Engagement.
While some stakeholders may be resistant or disengaged, you are more likely to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes if you see them as potential allies with shared interests. By seeking to understand their needs and motivations, you can increase your influence.
Read on to discover 3 steps to engage stakeholders, increase your influence and drive organisational strategy and growth.
Step 1- Set strategic influencing goals
To influence others successfully, you need to first be clear about your objectives and realistic about the timeframe you can reach them in. Ask yourself:
Goals and strategy
- What do you want to achieve?
- How does this align with business objectives?
- What’s the timeline for stakeholder communication? Are your goals achievable in this timeframe? Do you need to adjust your objectives?
Indicators of success
- How will you measure success?
- How will you know you have built the level of trust, engagement and influence to reach your objectives?
Step 2- Build a detailed stakeholder analysis
What do you need to know about your stakeholders? How detailed do you need each profile to be?
Use an interest-influence matrix to classify each stakeholder or group and add details to help you select your communications approach and develop your roadmap.
Remember, it’s a working document which needs updating. Keep adding information as you reflect on communications with, and feedback from, your stakeholders. Make sure it’s a multi-perspective analysis by collaborating with or asking for input from others.
Ensure your stakeholder analysis is useful by exploring the 5 key areas of VATIR:
What information, knowledge, skills, experience or expertise do they have? How can this contribute to achieving your goals as well as business objectives?
- What are their key business priorities?
- To what extent are their needs/interests/goals/values shared or aligned with your and business objectives?
- What level of trust exists with the stakeholder?
- What’s the positive engagement history between you? What did they engage well or poorly with?
Influence and impact
- What is their level of influence or authority over outcomes and decisions – directly or via other stakeholders?
- What will be the cost or benefit to them of taking action?
- How do your objectives resolve a pain for them? What is it?
- What will be the cost and benefit to them?
- How and to what extent will they be impacted by the process, objectives or outcomes?
- What capability do they have and at what level? What time, staffing, budget, facilities and access do they have?
- Are these resources enough to meet the objectives, processes and methods you propose?
Step 3- Develop a communication roadmap
Customise your communications approach to each stakeholder or group. Make sure it’s aligned with your objectives and uses the information from your stakeholder analysis. What will achieve best results for all: informing, consulting, involving, collaborating or empowering?
Being clear and strategic about why and how you engage will manage expectations, save time and facilitate engagement.
Once you’ve identified your communications approach, you’re ready to draft your communication roadmap. For a stakeholder success story, your communication roadmap needs these 4 pitstops:
- Which channels will best establish the type of relationship needed for your communication approach?
- Do you have sufficient resources and time for these methods?
- Will they work well for your stakeholders? What about the location, timing and language levels?
- How can you ensure your message resonates with stakeholders’ interests and needs?
- What emotions do you want the stakeholder to feel? How do you imagine those emotions might impact their decision making?.
- What do you want to include in your message?
- What evidence do you have to support your ideas?
- How can you motivate them to take the action you need? Think about their needs, communication style, awareness and knowledge levels.
- How will you manage objections?
- How does your roadmap align with your short, medium and long-term goals?
- What can you achieve in 6 months? In 2 years? In 5 years?
- What value is there for stakeholders at each stage?
- What decisions will need to be made in what timeframe?
- What review dates are appropriate to build in?
- To what extent have your communications roadmap and approach met set metrics of success?
- What course corrections are needed to the map and approach?
Leverage your influence by following the 3 steps above. Positive influencing enables you to achieve your objectives, the business objectives AND maintain positive relations. Take your seat with confidence at the strategic leaders’ table.
Discover how our Stakeholder Engagement and Positive Influencing Skills courses can support you and your team develop a strategic approach to engagement, increase your influence and drive organisational strategy and growth.
Find more valuable tips by reading our blogs:
- 5 critical skills L&D leaders need for 2023
- Intercultural competence: the must-have skill for leading diverse teams
- EQ and change management: the essential skills for the compassionate L&D leader