Direct engagement: the best way to get stakeholders on board

Speech Bubble

Claire Stelfox reveals the her top tips for empowering stakeholders and why direct engagement is the key to success in any organisation

Your stakeholders are the foundation of your organisation, without their buy-in the organisation cannot achieve its full potential.

When you set out an ambitious plan for augmenting a quality culture across any company, it goes without saying that your people should be amongst your greatest advocates – make them your most passionate ambassadors and one of your most influential stakeholders.

Often quality is done to our teams and suppliers, rather than with them or even for them. If you want true commitment, as the standards require, there is no room for ivory towers. There is no substitute for personally reaching out to your colleagues and giving them a sense of ownership in what quality means for them.

When trying to engage stakeholders it’s important to be inclusive. Quality isn’t a privileged remit; it should be embedded at micro and macro levels. It is important to report to your board on audit results but also make sure you’re at those operational team reviews advising on how the Plan Do Check Act and continuous improvement tools can help with that service or production dilemma.

If you work for a large or complex organisation it’s important to be engaged with your stakeholders but be realistic. Having a forum made up of reps from across internal and supplier teams is an effective way to bring a diversity of disciplines into the fold. It is also a valuable ‘share and learn’ opportunity for otherwise remote teams, which provides in turn further momentum to extend the value of the quality brand internally.

For me the key to success is to stop hiding behind emails and calls ­­– be open to feedback, take time to give advice and support beyond audits and certifications.

Market quality as you would market any cherished brand, by communicating how you can support others and all of your successes. You can do this in a way that keeps quality meaningful for each stakeholder – answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question before it’s even asked!

The secret to engaging stakeholders is trust, commitment and patience and above all, ‘keep it real’ in every interaction.

Lose the quality jargon and tailor your engagement to the specific team, colleague or customer you’re working with. For quality to be real to people and worth buying into, it has to bring a real benefit to them in challenges and tasks.

We can’t embed and maintain quality in isolation and we shouldn’t want to. By using direct engagement fulfilling this becomes less of a push-pull scenario and much more of a natural and dynamic process. If quality is well planned and executed, it moves our skills beyond the compliance basics to make quality professionals challenging and integral consultants for the organisation at every level.

Clare Stelfox is the Sustainability and Compliance Governance Lead at BT Ireland, find out about BT’s quality goals in the January issue of Quality World

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