In my corporate workshops on stakeholder management, I often encourage individuals to map out their stakeholders. Very often people put in the most obvious one – their boss. Then I ask them who makes important decisions about their promotion or raise or the new project that they’ve been dying to lead. The answer is very often – someone else, who isn’t their boss. And then I see a bulb go off – and new names being added to the stakeholder list!
Who is a stakeholder?
Simply put, a stakeholder is someone who is involved in or affected by a course of action.
A stakeholder is someone who impacts you and whom you impact.
Why this matters is twofold:
They influence your decisions at work and in life
You invest considerable time and energy into them for different reasons
Here’s a simple exercise to identifying your stakeholders.
Step 1: On a piece of paper or whiteboard, create two sections – professional and personal.
Step 2: Under professional, think about all the people who directly impact you? Who has a say in your development? Who impacts which projects or assignments you’re given? These could be your boss, team members, direct reports, peers in your group, clients, etc.
Step 3: Now list of people who indirectly impact you – those whom you may not interact with daily but who could still make decisions that impact your role and future in the company. For example, your group head, boss’ boss, client’s boss, HR, competitors (if you’re an entrepreneur or are self-employed).
Step 4: Repeat for all the people in your personal life. With whom do you spend your time outside of work? Family and friends are the obvious one but what about your community involvement? Do you have ongoing personal commitments that take up your time? The time you commit to charitable work (your contact at the organization), your book club or other interests you may have, your child’s PTA meetings.
Let's not forget a very important stakeholder – you!
Your hobbies, self-care, relaxation and other ways in which you recharge and get ready for life everyday is an important consideration as well.
Once you’re done mapping, you’ll have a very clear idea of all the people who play a part in how you manage your time and effort every day.
The goal of this exercise is to not get overwhelmed but simply identify your stakeholders. Remember, knowledge is power. Your next step will be to prioritize them, so you know exactly how much time and energy you need to allocate to each stakeholder. We’ll discuss this in a subsequent post. Until then, happy mapping!