A recent conversation with a client focused on the importance of identifying the contribution that you – the organisation – need/want from your stakeholders. The conversation proved valuable to the client so I am summarising it below in case it might be useful to others.
Once we start thinking in stakeholder terms when setting organisational goals and objectives it is easy to overlook – at least initially – two important considerations. These are firstly the importance of ‘balancing’ what can be diverse expectations from stakeholder groups, e.g shareholders, customers, employees etc, and secondly the importance of recognising that at different times the expectations of one or more specific stakeholder group(s) should take preference over those of another group or groups. So far as the first of these considerations is concerned this always applies, and can largely be addressed by ensuring that whilst setting goals and objectives for a specific stakeholder group, the organisation also identifies what it requires from that group – what can simply be called the “stakeholder contribution”. These “contributions” are, or should be, always connected directly or indirectly to meeting the expectations of another group or groups of stakeholders. By considering these, balance in terms of goals and objectives can be achieved.
A simple example might help illustrate this. Assume you are managing an organisation selling desktop computing to the business sector. It is likely that your customers basic expectations, (their needs and wants), will include high quality (functionality, build, reliability etc) hardware at lowest/competitive cost. But if you only considered their expectations, you might well end up out of business. Their expectations must be balanced by what you (the organisation) need/want from them, which could for example include profitability and loyalty. You need these in order to remain financially viable, and keep costs as low as possible, both needs primarily relating to the expectations of another stakeholder group – your shareholders/investors.
Any so it is for every stakeholder group. Their expectations have to be ‘balanced’ against the organisations needs and wants in terms of the contribution expected from them – the stakeholders. This can be called the “stakeholder contribution”, the ‘quid pro quo’ an organisation requires from the stakeholders in return for addressing their expectations. Overlook this when developing your stakeholder focused goals and objectives and you might find yourself in trouble! But address it and you’re well on your way to establishing a ‘balanced’ set of goals and objectives that are achievable and stakeholder focused.
Happy business goal and objective setting. And remember……set your goals and objectives before developing the strategy to deliver them!