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Getting sentimental

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Getting sentimental

Seeking the views of stakeholders is essential in managing and improving corporate reputation.

We work with many companies and organisations that need to know what their stakeholders think about them and their operations. There are several ways to gather this intelligence but the method that works best is a stakeholder sentiment survey.

The survey generally comprises a series of face-to-face, structured interviews that seek the views of people that can make a real difference to the organisation. The survey typically seeks views about:

  • the resonance of a corporate strategy;
  • areas of concern about the operations, customer service, people or products;
  • what challenges and opportunities exist;
  • a comparison between competitors; and
  • various other insights.

Who do we interview? This is different for each client, but they generally include: customers, government and political representatives, regulators, academics, media, industry associations etc.

Our experience tells us a few truths:

  • without exception, we always gather vital intelligence that the organisation needed to know but did not;
  • stakeholders are invariably grateful for being asked their views;
  • when organisations are brave enough to seek the views of their detractors or critics, they always learn important lessons;
  • good leaders want to hear the results in an unvarnished, frank way and share all the results with their management teams;
  • even though the interviews are conducted confidentially, most senior stakeholders are happy for their remarks to be shared verbatim; the verbatim comments are where the ‘real gold’ is found;
  • the best organisations take on the sentiments gathered in the survey, take the necessary action and share what they have done with their stakeholders;
  • by contrast, where the insights are disputed and ignored, the stakeholder sentiment tends to be further eroded.

We don’t recommend conducting a stakeholder survey just for the sake of it; it is important that it leads to some practical outcomes. We have witnessed the following improvements as a result of conducting and acting upon a stakeholder survey: modifications to corporate strategy; new corporate collateral to better align with stakeholder feedback; changes in senior roles where stakeholders have identified personnel problems and roadblocks; and new internal programs to enhance the quality of stakeholder engagement by managers.

Mature organisations quickly see the value of a stakeholder survey, but I am also reminded of the adage of a former boss who warned that a stakeholder survey could be like ‘buying a parrot to call you a bastard’! But sometimes, being called a bastard is exactly what you need to reflect and get better.

Published: 30/01/2020 Author: Tags: , Back to News