Getting stakeholder engagement right
Engage early with stakeholders to get their buy-in and tap in to their expertise.
- Not having a clear plan or purpose to stakeholder engagement from the beginning
- Not having a plan for capturing and incorporating stakeholder feedback.
Tips for success
- Identify and map your stakeholders based on their interest in and influence on taskforce objectives
- Determine the issues on which you need stakeholder input and develop strategies for engagement
- Develop a system for recording and incorporating stakeholder feedback into deliverables, and provide updates to stakeholders on consultation findings
- Evaluate and make any necessary adjustments to your stakeholder engagement method as you go along to ensure your approach is effective.
How to get stakeholder engagement right
There are many advantages to good stakeholder engagement, including contributing to taskforce objectives, encouraging new ideas and innovation, and supporting a more seamless policy handover to the BAU area/line agency.
Successful stakeholder engagement involves adapting your approach for each stakeholder: consider who the stakeholder is, how often and why you should engage them, and what the desired outcome from engagement is.
The APS Framework for Engagement and Participation outlines different ways to engage including sharing, consulting, deliberating or collaborating. A range of techniques, including interviews, workshops, focus groups and surveys, may be utilised to facilitate engagement. There are also a number of digital platforms such as The HiVE, EngagementHQ and Citizen Space which can be used to facilitate effective engagement with a wide range of stakeholders.
Stakeholder engagement starts with identifying and mapping stakeholders and creating an engagement plan.
Identification and mapping stakeholders
Identify and map stakeholders relevant to your taskforce, and strategically plan engagement based on stakeholder interest in and influence on taskforce objectives.
Identifying stakeholders involves two key considerations:
Which issues will require stakeholder consultation?
Which stakeholders should be engaged and how they will be able to assist your taskforce to achieve its objectives?
Consider all potential internal and external stakeholders with an interest in the taskforce, including the BAU area/line agency to which taskforce outcomes will be handed over, and relevant Ministerial offices. Also include stakeholders who can bring diverse perspectives and fresh ideas, such as end users of services, industry groups and peak bodies.
Once stakeholders have been identified, use the stakeholder mapping template to chart the interest and influence of stakeholders to your taskforce, which will enable you to plan and develop a strategy around your engagement.
Develop a stakeholder engagement plan during the taskforce planning stage to determine the methods, frequency, roles and responsibilities and aims behind stakeholder engagement. You can use the stakeholder engagement plan template provided.
Additionally, you should assess your broader communications needs, including audiences and channels. You may need to develop a communications strategy, and engage specialist staff as needed.
Note that stakeholder engagement is not a once-off activity; you will need to iterate the plan on an ongoing basis as your engagement develops. It’s also advisable to assess the effectiveness of your stakeholder engagement as you go along to enable you to improve the engagement process if necessary.
Executing your plan
Once you have your stakeholder engagement plan you will need to execute it in a considered and transparent way, which includes:
being clear about what you are trying to achieve
being open about your limitations and constraints
telling people where their input is going, and
managing expectations around the outcome and decision making process.
Don’t forget to make a record of stakeholder feedback and interactions. You can use the feedback tracker to record stakeholder responses throughout your engagement.
Closing the loop
Finalising stakeholder engagement involves closing the feedback loop by thanking stakeholders for their contribution and informing them how their feedback has been incorporated into the work of the taskforce. This may include, for example, providing stakeholders with a summary of consultation findings midway through the taskforce, then providing a copy of any interim or final reports as they arise.
Closing the loop goes a long way in maintaining productive working relationships, encouraging future engagement and ensuring buy-in to the work of the taskforce.