Who amongst us has not stumbled upon people who seem comfortable putting a roadblock in place when others endeavor to prioritize and promote inclusion in the workplace? Sound familiar? Do not fear; help is on the way. Leveraging project management skills can help overcome frustrating scenarios that stall or limit progress. Equally important is knowing that creating an inclusive workplace is a collaborative sport. Undoubtedly there's a champion that's pushing the initiative forward. However, internal and external stakeholders need acknowledgment and inclusion to develop and sustain progress on the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging journey. To do so, those seeking inclusive workplaces must invest time in understanding these stakeholders to garner better support and successful partnerships.
FIND THE KEY STAKEHOLDERS
Stakeholders are everywhere when we take the time to notice. The first step in identifying stakeholders involves taking the time to holistically understand stakeholders that touch and benefit from your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) project. Project Management Institute defines a stakeholder as someone involved and interested in a project. With that knowledge in mind, inclusive leaders can scan their environments and then create an exhaustive list of who the stakeholders are. Project teams can help with the brainstorming and identification of stakeholders. Be creative in expanding stakeholder reach by looking for places off the status quo to enroll support for DEIB efforts.
Next is taking the stakeholder list forward to analyze and better understand likes, dislikes, and influencers. Consider doing market research to gain additional psychographic information to build relationships and improve communications and negotiations. Doing so will aid in enrolling trusted stakeholders as partners to create impactful change. One place to perform this analysis is to evaluate leadership teams to identify gaps and opportunities for securing unique insights. Consider engaging in one-on-one conversations with senior leaders to strengthen the stakeholder engagement strategy. When garnering insights for many employees and customers, intentionally include a subset as a focus or learning group to test and validate findings to avoid broad generalizations.
If puzzled by stalled progress, it's likely stakeholder management needs tweaking. First, it is critical to understand stakeholder positions regarding the project. For example, enrolling stakeholders who withhold support could be a more straightforward win with proactive and intentional planning. One tool to leverage to do this work is a stakeholder map. In project management, the tool assists with managing projects for success and can unearth insights into the power and interest of stakeholders. Gathering this information can help to navigate challenges better and ensure aligned communications for success.
One path to consider for winning over opposing stakeholders is identifying and building relationships with influencers. Inclusive Leaders can look to partner with influencers to navigate conversations and push for results that could take longer if DEIB strategy and programming are unwelcomed. Take Florida, for example, where funding has been voted unavailable for DEIB education. More of these actions can occur with the political elections on the horizon. As such, proactively enrolling stakeholder influencers is a strategy inclusive leaders can get started with now.
This article was originally published in Forbes.
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