One of the first steps for introducing change successfully is to determine who your stakeholders are. It’s important to not just know who they are but to determine how much influence they have on the potential for your change to be successful. Stakeholders can influence the success of your change in a couple of ways:
1) They can have high power in the organization and have a positive attitude about the change. These are the stakeholders that you need to leverage as much as possible to move your change forward. They don’t need to be sold on it, they’re already positive about it and because of they power in the organization, they can be strong influencers. Think about making them sponsors or putting them on the steering committee. Utilize them as advocates for the change. And remember, high power doesn’t only come with a formal title. Some people in the organization are powerful because others perceive them as informal leaders. They can sometimes be more impactful than those will a formal title.
2) If someone with high power has a negative attitude, they have the potential to do real damage and keep your change from being successful. It’s important to engage with them early and understand why they feel negatively and to determine how you may be able to turn them from negative to positive.
3) You may also have stakeholders who are low power and positive about the change. It’s great that they are positive but don’t let them take up too much of your time. Keep them informed and appreciate their positivity but because of their limited ability to influence, spending too much time communicating too them and working with them may not yield the dividends you would hope for. That said, in the future one or more of the low power stakeholders could be in a high power position, so don’t neglect them.
4) Finally, there are the low power, negative stakeholders. They can be a distraction and frustrating but their ability to influence the success of your change is limited. Keep them informed but don’t be too concerned with their ability to impact your change.