Organizations need to be aware of their surroundings and understand their ecosystem if they want to succeed. One way to accomplish that is to know the different types of stakeholders that they should consider when making decisions and reaching out for collaborations. These stakeholders can be found at the individual, collective, institutional, and ecological levels.
The different types of stakeholders
Individual stakeholders exist within and outside the organization and have a close relationship with it. Think of employees, associates, customers, vendors, partners, investors, and others. Their goals are different for each person, and their influence on the overall success of an organization varies as well depending on how they all relate to the organization and each other. For instance, how employees interact with customers can be as influential as how executives interact with employees and community partners.
From these interrelationships emerge collective stakeholders. They can be formal or informal groups of individuals who are all linked by a common goal. A collective interest or feature is where and how they come together. Organizations have professional groups and committees that can assist them or oppose them in reaching their goals.
Institutional stakeholders are a bit different from collective stakeholders: they are also groups but have relationships established upon authority or systemic control/influence to the organization. Government agencies and regulatory bodies are prime examples.
Ecological stakeholders may not engage with the organization directly or frequently, but it’s in the best long-term interest of the organization to know them and have them in consideration. Local neighbors and the environment are common examples of this type of stakeholder that an organization may overlook.
How to identify the various stakeholders
Think about different types of stakeholders that could impact (or be impacted by) your company and develop a stakeholder management plan. Each of these stakeholders have varying levels of influence over how things happen within your company, but if they have a strong voice in the process they will exert a strong influence on the outcome. It is important to find the right balance between mere awareness, engagement, and collaboration with different stakeholders.
Who is a stakeholder?
Anyone who has or could have a vested interest in or is/could be affected by the organization’s actions should be considered a stakeholder. Some of the ecological stakeholders include:
|____ Funders||____ Local Government||____ Government Agencies||____ Non-profits|
|____ Corporations||____ Local Businesses||____ Minority Groups||____ Community organizers|
|____ Neighbors||____ Local Residents||____ State Government||____ Federal Government|
|____ Global Organizations||____ Global Communities||____ Environment||____ Other(s)|
What’s at stake?
In general, stakeholder management, much like sustainability management, involves deciding which agents and what actions can provide the most benefit for an organization. Understanding the types of stakeholders and how to manage them can go a long way in guiding an organization. Without a good understanding of each of the stakeholder types, your organization is at risk of failing its mission and its service to the public. Who is involved in the decision? (Who is the leader, who is the member of the group, and how do they influence the group’s decision?) What does the decision actually entail? (A clear definition of what decision is being made) What are the pros and cons of the decision? (Two pros and two cons of the decision)
Bringing stakeholders in as collaborators can be an important first step to creating trust and a positive environment. If you don’t have a management plan, you can still start communicating with stakeholders and planning for collaboration at all levels. Here are some pointers on how to put together a stakeholder management plan: Create a set of stakeholders and align them into groups based on both professional and organizational needs. Listen to the stakeholders’ needs to gain insight of their perspectives and interests at play. Discuss ideas for potential collaborations. Figure out how to share knowledge with them. Get to know the stakeholders you work with on a personal level to understand what is important to them.