Know thy stakeholders: All too often organizations invest considerable time and money in employee training without taking this crucial step: Without knowing your employees – really understanding who they are, where they’re coming from, and what makes them tick –it’s impossible to communicate with them in an engaging and effective manner.
Do You Know Enough About Your Internal Stakeholders to Teach Them?
Unless you’ve planned and executed an intentional exercise to get to know your stakeholders, the truth is, you likely don’t know enough about them. Aside from the sheer volume of need-to-know information, it can be difficult for organizations to see beyond inherent biases and assumptions. To further complicate this issue, if your business or workforce is growing and changing (for example, if your workforce is retiring and being replaced with a much younger generation), then any understanding of your stakeholder audience will need to shift accordingly.
Understanding Your Employees: Where to Begin?
What do you need to know about these stakeholders to ensure that your messages resonate? A stakeholder persona profile will help you understand your stakeholders from a variety of perspectives and through numerous lenses.
Every organization should have a thorough, up-to-date profile of their common employee archetypes that include the following attributes:
- Demographics: Where do your employees come from? Where did they study and what is the highest level of education they hold? To which generation do they belong?
- Psychographics: What interests them? Where do they spend their leisure time? How comfortable are they with technology?
- Priorities: What are the most important things they need to accomplish in any given day, month or year? How are they prioritizing their work?
- Pain Points: What are the most pressing challenges they face in work and in life?
- Measures of Success: Which factors and metrics do they use – or does your leadership team use – to measure their success? What personal metrics or indicators make them feel successful? Are they striving for recognition, for instance, or compensation?
- Barriers to Success: What’s keeping them from being successful?
- Information/Knowledge Gaps: When your employees have questions, where do they find answers? Who ensures accuracy? What subjects do your employees feel confident in and in which subjects do they feel less prepared?
- Learning Styles: Are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners? Do they prefer reading over listening to a lecture? Watching a video over hands-on instruction?
Better Employee Training, Better Business: It Starts With Knowing Your Stakeholders
To some business leaders, collecting all this information can seem daunting. But the process of getting to know your employees as internal stakeholders can be fairly painless. The important part is to first have a clear outline of what you want to learn about your audience. Then, it’s a simple matter of beginning the dialogue: it can begin with simple online surveys, in one-on-one conversations between HR and employees, or managers and their subordinates. If appropriate for your organization, it might be beneficial to host a focus-group style meeting. If there’s concern that the information gathered might be biased (or that employees might not feel empowered to be completely honest), ask a third party to interview your stakeholders on your behalf.
The information gathered straight from the source should also be rounded out with market research that contains some wider-reaching information.
Understanding your employees as a stakeholder audience is vital to the success of your organization. With a solid understanding of this audience, you can optimize content messaging and mediums, and work within the existing ecosystem of your business to reach this audience directly and with relevance.