Written by: Katherine Masleid-Rivard
More than buzz words, these are real concerns for any public project and ignoring them can create costly road blocks and detours. I’ve seen neglected stakeholders bring a project to a grinding halt; community members wondering if their leadership is even listening; and countless resources wasted on ineffective meetings.
While success at these goals may seem elusive, there are key steps and questions you can use to create a clear path forward.
I’ll walk through specific areas and the questions I ask to help achieve these goals in five posts:
As you move through a process your goals will evolve. Many people are surprised that effective engagement doesn’t just happen with one great meeting.
If you find yourself accused of not listening to stakeholders, you may be skipping a step in the journey. The secret is that perception is reality: if participants don’t feel heard, nothing else matters.
You may recall a time someone just kept telling you the same thing again and again. You wondered why they kept repeating themselves. Didn’t they think you understood? Don’t they believe you are listening? Do they just want to hear themselves talking?
Allow me to share an approach that can solve many of these possible challenges.
These steps borrow a page from the practice of Active Listening, a communication technique that confirms understanding before continuing the dialogue. These steps go further by also sharing the impact of dialogue on solutions and next steps.
When I’m working with stakeholders, I’ve learned that there is a pattern to effective engagement with four key steps in the journey.
By using these steps in combination with the different engagement formats, you’ll set up a pattern for effective engagement and even better, effective decision making.
I’ve built a bit of a cheat sheet that helps walk through all of these questions. Beyond the questions, it lays out a pattern of stakeholder decision making that I’ve found helpful.
Effective engagement requires deep listening and a process to close the loop. In this way you can ensure that you have the right information and engender the same confidence in everyone else.
So you’ve made a lot of headway in building a foundation for effective engagement, but now what? What do you do with all these great ideas? Stay tuned for my next post, when we discuss taking what you’ve learned and making it real.
Today’s post is part of an ongoing series by firm leaders intended to provide insight into key aspects of ABA’s practice. If you have any questions, comments, or experiences to share – please do so in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.