Graham Birkenhead, January 15 2019

Consult & Inform

If you are in business, you have stakeholders. They are all the people that have an interest in what you are doing or could be affected by what you are doing.

At a recent Stakeholder Management workshop that I was running we were wrapping up and it was question time.  There is always some bright spark that asks the question that attempts to cram a whole day’s information into 30 seconds. “What is the one simple thing that I can do that will have a significant impact on my stakeholder engagement” he asked. 

I thought for a moment. “C  I“ I replied, “That stands for Consult and Inform”. 

There is a fairly well known acronym called RACI and it stands for Responsible - Accountable - Consult - Inform.  For the answer to this particular question, I wanted to focus on the C and the I. 

Mis-communication, in all of its myriad forms, is at the root of many organisational issues, and a significant positive impact can be had quite easily by being aware that there are a few more people out there that perhaps you should be communicating with. And as you think about those people, ask yourself if you should consult or inform them: 

Consult– this is simply asking for people’s ideas, thoughts, advice and feedback as appropriate.  It can provide deeper understanding, or broader perspective and as such can help you come to a better-quality decision. You don't need to take people’s advice, but sometimes it is good to consider it. Also, the people you are consulting, may just appreciate being asked – it helps them feel included, maybe even respected or valued.  Failing to ask them could create resistance in the future if your decision affects them. You will spend a lot more time and energy dealing with a detractor than you would have by just doing a little consultation in the first place. 

Inform– many people just like to know what is going on – especially if events are likely to affect them at some point.  Informing has several benefits:  it prepares people for what may come later, it stops or reduces the amount of time they spend trying to work out for themselves what is going on, it helps them feel included and to belong to the organisation increasing their sense of security, it makes them feel valued as you made the effort and took the time to communicate with them.  Obviously, what and how much you tell people is important too. 

So, next time you are making decisions, invest a little time in making sure you are communicating to right people in the right way. 

And if you want to know a little more about the R and A, have a look at one of my previous posts about the art of delegation.

Written by

Graham Birkenhead

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