Let’s start off this series of “stakeholders” by exploring your suppliers. People can struggle with this category, so let’s explore it a bit more.
Let’s suppose that you’re in marketing or sales. Who develops the products or services that you sell? Who purchases or supplies them?
Or suppose you’re in customer service, answering questions and resolving issues. What are the products your customers call about? Who controls them?
Perhaps you’re in accounting or human resources. Where do rules and policies come from? Where do you get your data?
One of the ways to puzzle through this is to look at your inbox. You’re going to get messages, information, or other stuff which is necessary to get your job done. Who does that come from? If someone disappeared, would your work become impossible?
One of the struggles with this category is that the suppliers can seem very distant. As a business owner, I need office supplies to run my company. I go to the store to purchase things, but those people don’t really know or care about me. It’s just a transaction, not really a relationship.
But that raises the question: If I treated it as a relationship worthy of investment, would I get any value from that? Maybe not for standard office supplies, but if I want to have some artwork developed for my company, I might be much happier if I knew that the supplier really understood and cared about what I need from them. Perhaps I’ll even get a better deal over the long run.
Let’s go back to the example of customer service. Sure, somebody out there develops and delivers the products that your customers call about. But who are they, and why should they care to listen to me?
Because you’re their customer. You might just have information that’s useful to them. You might be able to influence what they create, making your life happier in the future.
One of your suppliers might be the government – unknown people delivering regulations that you have no choice but to comply with. Would it be worth trying to develop a relationship with the government? Perhaps, depending on whether you would like to influence them. But most of the time, in my experience, there’s not enough value to justify extra work. Your call.
And that highlights one of the key conclusions about this model: Knowing your stakeholders doesn’t mean you have to do anything different with all these people. You get to choose where you’re going to get the most value.
But it’s hard to figure that out if you don’t know who the important people are in your work.
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Series on Workplace Dynamics
- Part 1: Understand All Your Stakeholders
- Part 2: Understand Your Suppliers
- Part 3: Understand Your Management
- Part 4: Understand Your Customers
- Part 5: Understand Your Partners
- Part 6: Understand Your Own Needs
by Carl Dierschow