Category: Stakeholder Database

Stakeholder Group–The “Elderly”


A recent report by Goldman Sachs reported that economic growth in the BRIC countries will be impacted by the fact that young people will have to look more and more after older people. Estimates show that there will be a 46% increase in these countries of people over the ages of 65.

This information reminded me of reading the Commissioner’s report on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where it was mentioned that one of the stakeholder groups Emergency Teams were not equipped and prepared to deal with was old people – most not in the medical system. Disaster staff reported dealing with bed ridden old and frail people.

Due to world-wide advances in health care, people will tend to live longer than the median age. More and More reports are showing that many people will not be able to retire and live off their pensions.

This raises interesting thoughts for Stakeholder Managers, for instance:

  • How do we look after these people?
  • How do we make use of their experiences and knowledge?
  • What are their preferred needs and wants?
  • Their preferred communication methods?

Viewing it from another angle it also raises interesting angles for Universities. Your alumni will get older and will need to be kept in the fold.

There is also this fallacy that all people want to retire and live happily ever after. In the early 80’s I managed a Mentorship Scheme for the Small Business Development Corporation where we used retired executives to do small business management consultations and act as advisors to entrepreneurs (Similar to the US SCORE program). I recall working with a retired Swiss CEO called Werner Freund. He was as sharp as ever at 72 and I learned more from him in a year than I learnt in my studies.

These are the type of people who we need to embrace and use. They can be a useful resource if you think strategically about it.

I would also recommend that you visit the Department of Social Development’s website for updated information such as this report deals with the rights of older people.

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Crucial Questions to ask about Stakeholder Management


995748_91898411An organization derives its reputation from its stakeholders. Therefore the perceptions that is created through the things stakeholders see, read, hear about or experience first-hand.

This implies that there exist a web of relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders that needs to be monitored and managed.

But what is a stakeholder? The word stakeholder means anyone that has a legal, moral or economic stake in an activity. Some stakeholders have more clout than others, but that is also changing.

For example – Ghandi was an activist. Today with the right tools, any one person can become an activist or a journalist, hence the rising of the citizen reporter phenomenon. I can have a block of shares in a company, worry about ROI irrespective of the number of people who are retrenched. Alternatively I can be a member of the media. I will have an interest in what your organization does…because the public has a right to know.

The term ‘stakeholder management’ refers to the development and implementation of organisational policies and practices that take into account the goals and concerns of all relevant stakeholders.

The term Stakeholder Management also involves the dialogue, relationship building and process generation that take place between an organisation and its various stakeholders. Each of these stakeholders can affect an organisation’s reputation positively or negatively and necessitate different strategies to leverage the situation.

In the King 3 Code of Corporate Governance specific mention is made of the importance of stakeholder inclusivity (,i.e. that the legitimate interests and expectations of stakeholders are considered when deciding in the best interests of the company), stakeholder identification and determination of expectations and needs, the proactive management of stakeholder relationships, and that management should develop a strategy and formulate policies for the management of relationships with each stakeholder grouping.

The King Code also makes mention that the Code is on an ‘apply or explain’ basis and that the board of directors, in its collective decision-making, could conclude that to follow a recommendation would not, in the particular circumstances, be in the best interests of the company. ‘’The board could decide to apply the recommendation differently or apply another practice and still achieve the objective of the overarching corporate governance principles of fairness, accountability, responsibility and transparency. Explaining how the principles and recommendations were applied, or if not applied, the reasons, results in compliance. In reality, the ultimate compliance officer is not the company’s compliance officer or a bureaucrat ensuring compliance with statutory provisions, but the stakeholders”

In particular, the one danger that everyone is missing is Section 8.1 of the King Code 3 i.e. The Governing of Stakeholders states that the Board should appreciate that stakeholders’ perceptions affect a company’s reputation.

How can managers do this if they do not fully understand stakeholder management and its impact on governance and reputation?

Here is a quick test for you. Can your management team answer the following strategic questions:

  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What are our stakeholders’ stakes?
  • What opportunities and challenges do stakeholders present?
  • What economic, legal, ethical, and social responsibilities does our organisation have towards our various stakeholders?
  • What strategies or actions should we take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?
  • Do you have a system for managing relationships with stakeholders?
  • How do you measure results? What metrics do you use to assess and gauge stakeholder relationships?
  • In a crisis how quickly can you communicate with your relevant stakeholders?
  • Do you know the various methods to engage with stakeholders and when not to use it?
  • Can you state how much you are spending on each stakeholder group and what your ROI is?
  • Have you developed a set of rules and practices on how best to manage the process of building stakeholder reputation with each stakeholder group?

Once you have answered the above questions, then you should attempt these:

– What strategies or actions should our firm take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?

– Should we deal directly or indirectly with stakeholders?

– Should we take the offense or the defence in dealing with stakeholders?

– Should we accommodate, negotiate, manipulate or resist stakeholder overtures?

– Should we employ a combination of the above strategies or pursue a singular course of action?

All of these are vital strategic questions to ask for any project, incident or issue. Reputation Risk emerges when the reasonable expectations of stakeholders are not met.

What is reasonable? Let me use an example. The recent amount of product recalls and scandals examples illustrates this very clearly. As a consumer safety is a basic right. I therefore would expect an organization to communicate with me, and warn me of the advantages and drawbacks of a product including tips on how to use it. (I wrote a short article on this in of my Powerlines newsletters )

But do companies do this? Only those who are enlightened do so, and not all are. It is only when a body like the FDA or the Consumer Protection Act forces some companies to comply, that they will come to the party.

Take a look at the Supersize Me saga, where through a class action law suit, McDonalds were forced to start to use more ethical labelling and change their menus. Why did it happen in the first place?

They were out of touch with current thinking. It is the same with collaboration methods. There are companies who try and stop staff from accessing Facebook, write blogs and use other forms of social media, thinking they can control messages. Yet, we deal with people in companies. Real, live people – not spokespeople, not Corporate Heads, but normal day to day people.

People want to connect with other real people.

How ready is your organization to engage with its stakeholders? Is there an integrated or a fragmented approach to managing stakeholders in the organization? Would you like to learn more about this interesting and holistic field of management?

Why don’t you attend the next Stakeholder Reputation workshop in March in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information visit http://stakeholderreputation.invite43.com

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class Registrations Close Today!


Deadline

Your chance to register for next week’s Stakeholder Reputation ends this afternoon – Thursday, the 15th October at close of business.

This is an ideal opportunity to join friends and colleagues to learn about the important strategic subject of managing stakeholders and their impact on organisational reputation.

Here is a quick test for you. Can you answer the following strategic questions:

  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What are our stakeholders’ stakes?
  • What opportunities and challenges do stakeholders present?
  • What economic, legal, ethical, and social responsibilities does our organisation have?
  • What strategies or actions should we take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?
  • Do you have a system for managing relationships with stakeholders?
  • How do you measure results? What metrics do you use to assess and gauge stakeholder relationships?
  • In a crisis how quickly can you communicate with your relevant stakeholders?
  • Do you know the various methods to engage with stakeholders and when not to use it?
  • Can you state how much you are spending on each stakeholder group and what your ROI is?
  • Have you developed a set of rules on how best to manage the process of building stakeholder reputation with each stakeholder group?

To learn the answers to these questions and many more, attend the Stakeholder Reputation Master Class next week at the Hotel Apollo in Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.

To learn more about the program, go to http://stakeholderreputation.invite43.com/ or e-mail reputationeducation@icon.co.za for a brochure and registration form.

This is the last Stakeholder Reputation Master Class event for 2009 so register now.

Hope to see you there and share valuable learning experiences with you !

P.S If you are interested in learning more about professional services and consulting practice marketing, check out my workshop for consultants and interested individuals – Monday 10 November : Market your Consulting Practice: http://marketingaconsultingpractice.invite43.com/

Learn How to Think like an Activist


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Many managers cringe when they hear the word activist. Because, activists as a stakeholder group can potentially damage an organisation’s reputation if relationships with them are not carefully built, understood and maintained.

I have always been intrigued how in movies, psychologists trying to track a serial murderer, try and become that person. They study that person’s motives, habits, appearance, background, etc. So, One of the best ways is to learn to be an activist yourself. By learning to become an activist, you will prepare yourself to handle potential reputational crises and campaigns against your organisation.

The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town call this the immersion principle. Immerse yourself until you fully understand all there is to be an activist.

Trouble is that these days, activists are no longer a plural word. A single person today has tools at their disposal to start a one person crusade. Technologies such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have increased the potential power of an individual, and companies should prepare themselves for online campaigns and other means of mobilisation.

Here then is a link to a free online course called The Virtual Activist – http://www.netaction.org/training/v-training.html – The course needs updating, but if you are a Twitter user, Facebook or MySpace follower, then you will learn a lot from this course.

The Virtual Activist illustrate why the communications efforts of social activists, including nongovernmental organizations, are so successful. Activists provide their supporters with both information and strategic and tactical tools. The combination of information and tools empowers people to take action, including communications or PR activities.

To further equip yourself, I can recommend the following site which should bring you up to speed: http://mashable.com/category/how-to-web/ with the latest Social Media tools and approaches.

Cut out Today’s Page 20 from the Business Report (Star Newspaper)


The Media is a powerful Stakeholder Group and for me one of the best ways that I have seen the Media re-emphasise this; is through the full page spread that appeared in today’s Star Newspaper – Business Report Section Page 20.

The Headline caption reads: ‘’For the news, turn to the news leaders’’

Just read the following: Independent Newspapers remains the leading newspaper publisher in South Africa, dominating the country’s four major metropolitan areas. The group has a nett weekly readership of 6, 768 million adults. The page then goes further to show the photos and details of their award winning journalists.

This is a good page to cut out and put in your Media Relations file and database.

Looking at the stats above, do you need any further encouragement to start a dedicated media relations function in your organisation?