Understanding whether a stakeholder feels positive, negative or neutral is useful in deciding which engagement approach will be most effective and if the need for action is urgent. stakeholdermap.comThe Gower Handbook for Programme Management suggests a very simple and effective approach to mapping stakeholder attitude.
How to map stakeholder sentimentSimply assess each stakeholder's attitude to your project by classifying them them as
- an Ally (positive attitude),
- Neutral, or
- Opponent (negative attitude).
Alies need to be enlisted; Neutrals need to be converted; and Opponents need to be neutralised. (Reiss, et al., 2006, p.g. 306)
Adapted from Reiss, et al., (2006, p.g. 306).
Regular reviews of attitude should show progress over time, as sentiment ideally moves from negative to neutral, and then to a positive attitude towards your project or business.
This Stakeholder Mapping method is very useful if combined with an analysis of stakeholder power and interest. See stakeholder analysis for a guide to the power and interest method.
The results of your stakeholder map drive the way that you engage with your stakeholders. Stakeholders who are allies may simply need to be shown consideration or have their needs met. However, if they are also powerful they should be enlisted as champions who can help you win over other stakeholders and who may be valuable consultants for your business or initiative.
Conversely powerful opponents should also be the focus of your stakeholder engagement plan. The priority should be on finding win/wins to bring these stakeholders around or on finding ways to remove the cause of their hostility.