Imagine this: We sometimes tell clients not to engage. Why? Because if you cannot engage authentically, then it’s better not to do it all. It’s that important.
Read on for some challenging questions to ask yourself when considering engagement.
What does it mean?
Authentic engagement is about bringing those impacted by a decision, or a potentially changed state, into the process of deciding. It’s like saying: “You might be impacted by what we are deciding, and I’m willing to consider your perspectives.”
Building relationships with internal and external stakeholders happens over time, and by demonstrating a consistent commitment to include them in decisions that might impact them.
People, I believe, are becoming increasingly skeptical of decisions makers – whether it’s their boss, the Board, a government Ministry, or other authority figure. This means as a community of stakeholders we are getting increasingly skilled at sniffing out a check-box engagement. This engagement is not authentic.
Authentic engagement is when there is a real opportunity for those who are engaged in the process to influence the decision.
If there is no opportunity for influence, or if there are no alternatives, or opinions, then just communicate what has been decided.
What does it look like?
Authentic engagement that builds relationships over time comes from a true willingness to consider other perspectives in a decision-making process. Some of the questions to ask yourself to determine how authentic your engagement is going to be, include:
- Are there viable alternatives the decision-maker may be open to?
- Is our organization able to make changes or accommodate a different approach to the project at this time?
- Are we willing/able to ensure the process meets the needs of our stakeholders?
- Have we asked stakeholders how they want to be engaged?
- As an organization, do we have established and effective “listening” tools? i.e. – can we receive input in a variety of ways?
If you answer NO to any of these questions, then the engagement may not be authentic and would do little to build meaningful relationships. Engagement is a two-way street, just like relationships.
This is part of an ongoing series exploring Delaney + Associates’ Company Creed. Check out the introduction piece here.