Be CAREFUL with senior stakeholders

Our lives are filled with acronyms, LOL.

In the business world you have all heard of SWAT or SWOT, you may have even heard of STEEP or STEEPLE analysis. In the general office environment you will be familiar with ASAP, FYI, FYA, 121 and the lists go on.

To be fair the world of ‘Internal Comms’ hasn’t really picked up too many acronyms but there is one that has been very useful for me when dealing with senior stakeholders.

This acronym is CAREFUL and has been fundamental for building trusted stakeholder relationships and delivering impactful and successful internal campaigns.

So how do you become a CAREFUL communicator?

C = Confidence

In order to develop strong relationships with senior stakeholders you must first be confident and really know your subject matter and your tools of tools of trade. Being confident in your trade, will mean your stakeholders can be confident you have what it to takes to deliver their campaign.

A = Ask

Refrain from the temptation to ‘tell’ your stakeholders what they should be doing, instead ask them what they want to achieve, ask them what they view as ‘successful results’. If you skip this step you will almost always fail to deliver a successful campaign.

You need to fully understand what your stakeholder wants to achieve before planning how to deliver it.

R = Responsive

Be very responsive, respond to calls, emails and texts from your stakeholder, remember they are very busy and if they have taken the time to contact you, they definitely need to speak to you. I have rarely come across a senior stakeholder who called me ‘for a chat’.

If you don’t respond in a timely manner, you run the risk of ruining the relationship and the trust you have built up, will fade fast.

E = Execute

Execute… action everything that you have promised to deliver on, there is nothing more detrimental to your stakeholder relationship than not delivering what you have promised to do.

If you are unable to deliver then you must keep your stakeholder informed of the reasons why something has not been executed.

At this point it is worth mentioning, we have covered Confidence, Ask, Responsive and Execute so this is the perfect place to remind you to exercise care.

  • Confidence with care – don’t be cocky.
  • Ask with care, ask and take care to listen and capture everything.
  • Respond with care, be respectful and professional at all times.
  • Execute with care, don’t rush, don’t forget.

F = First

Your stakeholder, no matter how many you are responsible for, must come first. If, like most IC professionals, you have numerous senior stakeholders you will need to learn the art of ‘a business affair’. Each individual stakeholder must feel that they are your only focus, your only priority, they definitely don’t want to hear that you are ‘too busy’ attending to someone else.

Managing this juggling act successfully can be quite a challenge and this is a whole different topic. (Note to self ☝️ future topic for blog…How to juggle many stakeholders and make them all feel that they are number one.)

U = Unique

When approaching a new challenge or campaign with your stakeholder, go back to the drawing board every time. Each campaign will have unique targets and KPIs and to deliver something that will make your company’s employees sit up and take notice, you will need to pull something new out of the bag for each campaign.

It can be quite easy to pull out a tried and tested formula and repurpose materials to save on the extra leg work, but this will mean you run the risk of the campaign becoming ‘wallpaper’ and having minimal impact. This won’t impress anyone, least of all your stakeholder.

L = Loyalty

Loyalty in business, especially when working closely with senior stakeholders, is essential. What you see and hear in your meeting with each stakeholder is to be classed as confidential, even if you have not been told to keep it confidential.

This is one of the golden rules of internal communications. We are trusted professionals and in order to deliver a campaign successfully we will be privy to a lot of information that is not for wider consumption.

CAREFUL

A great acronym for the Internal Communications toolkit.

Be careful about your company’s / stakeholder’s brand and reputation, be careful about your own brand and reputation and remember, you are a champion for the ‘Internal Communication’ profession.

A profession that is building accreditation as an essential central function for all companies… Internal Communications.

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