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:
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:
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.