A photo of an auditorium, with red seats and half of them filled with people. The photo has be taken from above.

Getting started with stakeholder mapping

I recently had a chat with a comms friend about stakeholders. We spoke about the challenge of how you start figuring out who your stakeholders are and what to do next.

Here are some tips and resources I’ve found helpful in the past to help you get started when it comes to stakeholder mapping. You can use my Stakeholder template to capture your notes.

To get us started, let’s define what mean by ‘stakeholders’. A stakeholder can be defined as “a person such as an employee, customer, or citizen who is involved with an organisation, society, etc. and therefore has responsibilities towards it and an interest in its success”. Cambridge Dictionary.

Start with the bigger picture.
I found it much easier to start using a company organisation chart and then work through the different departments and management levels. If your team operates using a business partnering model, using an organisation chart can be a great way to complete this activity as a team.

In the book ‘Influential Internal Communication’ Jenni Field states that organisational charts “are a good map of relationships. They show teams, line management and leadership.” I agree with this and organisational charts can be a handy tool for you.

For each department, think about what you know for the area, such as channel preferences, potential barriers such as night working and any other nuggets of information you know. Remember some things you might not know yet. If you’re new to a role, you’ll be able to take your stakeholder template, get out into the organisation and fill in the blanks.

I recommend listening to Chaos to calm by Jenni Field, who shares her insights into managing stakeholders and her blog on Redefining Comms.

Top, middle and bottom
Your stakeholders mustn’t be just members of the leadership team and or senior management. Yes, they are essential, but as internal communicators, we want to get to know people across all levels of the organisation. I’ve often noticed that those colleagues furthest away from senior leadership teams or Head Offices have some of the most significant insights to share.

As you start to discover your stakeholders, you could consider making a note of the names of future comms champions. Now, this doesn’t need to be a formal network but might just be colleagues you contact every now and then for insights and feedback. It will be a struggle to stay connected with everyone, so this is where using groups such as ‘Call Centre Agents’ can be helpful.

Prioritise your time
Once you’ve created your list of stakeholders, you should think about the level of influence and interest each of them has relating to internal communication in your organisation. This can be done simply on paper using a Power-Influence Matrix or you can add it to my template. Depending on where each stakeholder is on your map, you will either manage them closely or monitor them.

  • Low interest, low power – Crowds to inform occasionally.
  • Low interest, high power – Context setters need to understand and be satisfied.
  • High interest, low power – Defenders to consider and keep informed.
  • High interest, high power – Key players to engage and manage actively.

Next steps

Once you have this stakeholder map in place, you’ll then be able to see who you need to be speaking with and how often. Your channels matrix will be a handy tool to help with this. Having a stakeholder matrix will hopefully give you more confidence in saying no to those stakeholders who demand a lot of time and attention but perhaps don’t add value to your internal communication plans.

Have a listen to Rachel Miller on the All Things IC Candid Comms podcast, sharing her insights on stakeholders.

This is just the start of stakeholder management and I recommend reading the PR Academy’ Guide to Stakeholder identification‘ that you can download for free. I’ve added a link on my Resources page.

Featured image from pixabay.