28 Expert tips for stakeholder engagement in emerging markets

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    28-May-2015

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A CSR Thoughtpiece from the CSR Training Institute -Edited by Wayne Dunn This list comes from a group of experts assembled for a training program on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets. The program, which took place in London in Oct 2014, brought together expert faculty with expert participants an incredibly insightful and experienced group. This document is the list of tips and takeaways that we put together at the end of the program. To keep updated on postings and events go to www.csrtraininginstitute.com and sign up for the newsletter

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  • 1. Helping business to serve shareholders AND society SIMULTANEOUSLY 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets -Edited by Wayne Dunn www.csrtraininginstitute.com/knowledge-centre

2. Compiled from contributions made by faculty and participants at an Executive program on How to effectively engage stakeholders in emerging markets. Edited by Wayne Dunn None of us is as smart as all of us That was pretty clear this week in London as I spent a couple of days with a brilliant group of participants in a Stakeholder engagement program that Toby Webb (Innovation Forum) and I ran. We had a fantastic faculty for sure, but the experience and diversity of the participants brought as much to the overall experience as Toby, myself or the rest of the faculty. The program, which focused on Successful stakeholder engagement in frontier markets included 20 hours of lectures, cases, group time 6 speakers / faculty with well over 125 years combined experience in frontier markets and combined experience in over 75 countries 7 case studies / scenarios At the conclusion of the program the combined expertise of the faculty and participants identified 28 tips for engaging stakeholders in emerging markets. Some are glaringly obvious. They are presented below in random order. Credit shared is goodwill created. Acknowledge, recognize, praise and promote partners and collaborators (government, NGOs, communities, organizations, etc). Do it every chance you can. You gain much and lose nothing. 1. Share credit it will multiply. 3. 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets Page 02 Everyone believes they are an excellent communicator. Most of us are not! Take training. Make training available. Try to make it mandatory. Everyone in your company is a communicator, but make sure communications are kept memorable and simple, and trust your people to do the right thing. Resist the urge to compartmentalize information. Treat all communications as if they were going to be posted on the internet for all to see (because, that may just happen). Act authentically but remember everything can and often will, end up on the record. Remember there is no such thing as reality: There are only perceptions. This is why brand power works, because they are made of perceptions based on your view of the world. Recognize the importance of perception in stakeholder engagement. Prepare for it and work with it. Perception is reality! Constantly search for alignment between company/project interests and stakeholder interests. Be creative sometimes real opportunities lie outside the box. Interest intersections, where your interests and stakeholder interests align are valuable gems. Think inside and outside the box to find them. Gems can be hiding in unexpected places. Developing partnerships with on the ground NGOs are vital. So are partnerships with governments, development agencies and others with shared objectives. Look for shared interests and objectives and build on them. They can help you to go further and be stronger when you get there. Show communities what is happening with their data, or risk negative speculation about your intentions. Think of ways their data may be used to support their interests and objectives. 2. Communication Training helps! 3. There are no secrets. 4. Perception rules! 5. Interest alignment. 6. Partnerships are good. 7. Help stakeholders understand why and what. 4. Page 03 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets Sometimes they will lie. So will your bosses and your reports and your colleagues, and probably you too. Thats life. Get used to it. Work with it. Your mistakes and shortcomings dont go away if you dont acknowledge them. Own them, learn from them and move on. Nobody expects perfection. Dont be afraid to be human and fallible. Honestly owning a mistake or shortcoming and moving on can build trust and strengthen relationships. Trying to hide them can do the opposite. Realistic time frames and budgets for stakeholder engagement are vital - and make sure your CFO understands and approves a realistic budget. Help them to understand the financial cost of stakeholder engagement failure. Stakeholders dont expect perfection so dont wait for everything to be perfect before you start stakeholder engagement. Engage early, engage often and build trust. 10. Stakeholders are human too. 11. Own your shortcomings. 12. Realistic time frames and budgets 13. Early is better. It will destroy trust and relationships. Resist the urge to hide behind policy and procedure. Work with relationships, not policy. Make sure your team is fully on board with this. Risk assessments for stakeholder management are very important. A sustainability issues matrix can help to understand, prepare and manage risks. Make the matrix fit the realities of your project and your stakeholders. One size DOES NOT fit all. 8. Officiousness kills. 9. Understand your risks. 5. Page 04 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets There is something in this for you and your company. Own it. Dont ever try to hide behind do-gooderism at the corporate or individual level. Your company is not a charity. Nobody will believe you if you try to present it as one. If you are in a stakeholder engagement press conference youve already lost! A press conference is not engagement: Any kind of confrontation means you have lost and need to rebuild. Let your humility and humanity show. Relax and enjoy meeting people and learning and being human: Early tension in meetings can be quickly relieved by smiling and being relaxed. Use the phrase: Lets get caught doing the right thing! to build simple internal buy in. Listen to the little voice inside it is a great compass. Communication is critical. Listening is key. Seek to understand before you try to be understood. Think about how you say things: Use soft language, not hard, emotion generating terms. Try to understand the interests and motivations of your stakeholders. 15. You are motivated by shareholder value. 16. Press conference = you lose. 17. Smile. 18. Do the right thing! 19. Understand before understood. Know why you are complying! Effective stakeholder relationships requires a balance of compliance and strategy. Dont be seduced by the illusion of certainty in compliance. Know what you want to be compliant with and why. Dont be afraid to venture into the uncertainty and ambiguity of strategic engagement practices. That is often where the breakthroughs are found and value is created. 14. Strategic Compliance. 6. Page 05 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets Use third parties as necessary (they can be very helpful) but dont contract out stakeholder engagement or difficult communications - your company must be the face stakeholders see and learn to trust. Stakeholder expectations will shift and change. But, guess what, corporate, government, and other expectations shift and change too. Thats life. Accept it and prepare for it. Engage, monitor, scan and adjust as required. There are lessons in success and failure. Analyze them both. Learn why you succeeded or failed and adjust. Dont expect the lessons to be absorbed without doing the work of analyzing and capturing them. Complexity will cost you. Simple guidelines beat complex prescriptive procedures every day of the week. Be realistic. If your stakeholder engagement plan, process, procedure is too complex who is going to follow it? Would you? Dont turn stakeholder engagement into box ticking! Train and trust your people. Give them room to be creative and responsive but let them know where the boundaries are. 21. Own your stakeholder relationships. 22. Expectations change (but seldom reduce). 23. Learn from success and failure 24. Simplicity is good. Every contact between the company and stakeholders builds or takes away from relationships. Everyone should be trained in stakeholder engagement at some level. Right person to right position: If you delegate, train and build capacity. Make sure your people know how do it right, never assume. This means your bosses, your reports and others across the company. 20. Everyone is the face of the company. 7. Page 06 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets Mapping stakeholders and interest mapping is vital, and must be reviewed often. Find and develop the interest intersections where win, win, win can be found. Remember, be creative and think inside and outside of the box. The importance of taking note of culture cannot be underestimated. Things change from country to country and project to project. Rigidity will often crack and break. Allow room for adaptation to culture and use it when necessary. Ongoing communications even when there is no obvious demand Be open and transparent, it builds trust. Think about being counter intuitive with regular communications about the good and bad. Get the balance right. Communicate frequently enough that you are not forgotten but not so frequently that you are ignored. Dont always wait for a big win, or failure. Share the ebb and flow of dailyness once in a while Compliance is the price of entry. Go beyond. Dont rely on compliance, or believe that claims of legality offer you meaningful defense or protection. 25. Interest intersections are critical. 26. All is not the same. 27. Stay in touch. 28. Dont be left at the starting line. 8. To see other Thoughtpieces and articles by Wayne click here>>> To get updates and newsletters from Wayne Dunn and the CSR Training Institute click here>>> Click to Follow Wayne Dunn is President & Founder of the CSR Training Institute and Professor of Practice in CSR at McGill. Hes a Stanford Sloan Fellow with a M.Sc. in Management from Stanford Business School. He is a veteran of 20+ years of award winning global CSR and sustainability work spanning the globe and covering many industries and sectors including extensive work with Indigenous Peoples in Canada and globally. His work has won major international awards and has been used extensively as best- practice by industry and academia. Hes also worked oil rigs, prospecting, diamond drilling, logging, commercial fishing, heavy equipment operator, truck driver and underwater logging, done a couple of start-ups and too many other things to mention. Waynes career includes big successes, and spectacular failures. He hopes hes learned equally from both. Wayne Dunn About the author Page 07 28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement in emerging markets

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