Improve4all supports organisations in their pursuit of sustainable excellence. But what is an excellent organisation? We find the answer in the EFQM Excellence Model in 2013: Excellent Organisations achieve and sustain outstanding levels of performance that meet or exceed the expectations of all their stakeholders.' That little word ‘all’ may seem obvious but it is not: that goes far beyond shareholders, employees and customers...
‘Look before you leap', is an appropriate English proverb. To perform stakeholder management firstly you should know who your stakeholders actually are. Are all businesses, organisations, groups or individuals known that have an impact on or are affected by the organisation? This may be a direct or indirect impact and could have a negative or positive effect. Customers, employees and suppliers are obvious, like shareholders, creditors and the government.
But one stakeholder is often forgotten: the wider society. On local, regional, national and even on a global scale, companies exert influence on their surroundings. And conversely, the currently rapidly changing circumstances in society may have a major impact on the organisation. Insufficiently we realize that ‘our planet’, which is threatened in the context of pollution, destruction and overconsumption of raw materials, is an important stakeholder of us all.
When all stakeholders are identified, it is necessary to take the next step: what are the needs and expectations of each stakeholder, both short and long term? To what extent are these needs and expectations linked? Are they in conflict or do they complement each other? A helicopter view at this stage is essential.
Then the time comes to match ‘wishes’ against ‘possibilities’ and make some strategic choices. What resources are available and what people are available and have the capability to meet all these needs? And: how will this fit in the corporate strategy? That is and remains the leading motive of all business activities. The phase to balance and make choices: what gets priority and what has to wait?
Supported by informed choices the time to act has come. Changes are defined and implemented and - crucially - evaluated. By periodically monitoring what the result is, it soon becomes clear if the road to achieving the strategic objectives is embarked upon. Regularly assessment (Is something wrong? What is it?) and improvement (How do we handle this?) must not be forgotten.
It is not just about what a company does, but also how it is perceived. All the more reason to involve stakeholders during the process: communicate about decisions taken, make sure it is understood and supported, be available for questions or feedback, and change course when necessary. That is in the interests of both the organisation and its stakeholders.
Happy ending? Not quite, because needs and expectations change over time. Like companies evolve, also the circumstances change in which a company operates. That will always raise new questions. Stakeholder management is a continuing conversation.
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