When you’re working on complex projects with varied stakeholders, so providing clear and consistent messaging to your stakeholders is important. Staying true to a core message creates trust and helps stakeholders understand change. And, helps ensure you remain as an active participant in the conversation.
A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my internet provider a lot. I was working from home, our service was incredibly slow, and I wanted answers, fast. Fortunately, over the course of a few hours, after speaking with multiple people, the issue had been resolved. But, I seemed to get a slightly different solution every time I called (this is not an uncommon occurrence).
Have you ever spoken with multiple people at an organisation and been provided with a different answer every time? It was exhausting trying to decipher what information was accurate. It was also hard to know who to trust, or who would actually help. Receiving mixed messages was simply frustrating and confusing.
You see, stakeholders can be quick to identify an inconsistent message and it’s easy for them to share their dissatisfaction online. Broken stakeholder trust is also difficult to rebuild. It can lead to resistance, negative publicity, loss of your social license to operate, project delays, and unexpected implementation costs.
Consistency creates certainty and sharing aligned communications to your stakeholders will improve your organisation’s reputation. It also helps you to create positive experiences, build better stakeholder relationships, and deliver better outcomes.
So, what really is a consistent message? And how can it help you build better relationships with your stakeholders?
Let’s breakdown and understand:
- What is a consistent message?
- Why do you need to be consistent when talking to stakeholders?
- How to align your communications.
- How to set your team up for future success.
What is a consistent message?
To deliver a consistent message, you need to make sure that your entire team is aligned on a central idea. It’s about choosing a core message and continuing to deliver it across all of your communications channels.
In stakeholder management, you also have to be consistent with the message that other team members have delivered. If a stakeholder shares a complaint or asks a question, your response needs to match information they have previously received. When the situation or context changes, you should be able to adapt your message while continuing to deliver the same idea.
That means that your entire team needs to have access to core project details. You may also need to identify your influential stakeholders and communicate with them frequently.
Why do you need to be consistent when talking to stakeholders?
Consistent messaging goes beyond repetition and alignment, it ensures common understanding and clarity is of utmost focus to your organisation. From here, you’re easily able to set accurate and achievable expectations with your stakeholders because they know you have their best interests at heart.
Consistent messaging creates a common understanding.
Just because you’ve said something once doesn’t mean that people will automatically understand or remember your message. Often repeating the same idea creates lightbulb moments and builds understanding with your target stakeholders.
After hearing your message a few times, your stakeholders can develop a crystal clear understanding. Sometimes they need time to understand your goals, especially if you are making big changes to their lives.
A common understanding also makes it easier to overcome project hurdles. Mutual trust makes stakeholders far more likely to listen to your advice when the unexpected arises.
Clarity ensures that your message gets through.
The world is noisy and it places huge demands on our attention. That means that important messages can easily get lost, confused, or go unnoticed. If you can deliver a consistent message repeatedly, you are more likely to reach and have an impact on your stakeholders.
Misaligned messaging is hard for stakeholders to process. They may simply ignore your communications if they have to spend too much time and mental energy thinking about them. If you want your stakeholders to listen, your message should be important and up to date.
Accuracy drives productivity and sets the right expectations.
Stakeholders always have a vested interest in your initiative and communicating with them consistently will keep your project on track. That involves getting the basics right.
Setting accurate meeting times and agendas is essential. Different groups of stakeholders will also have different interests, so you need to share information that is relevant to their needs. Sending consistent and timely project updates is also an effective way to take your stakeholders on the journey with you. It empowers stakeholders to provide their input at key phases in the project.
It’s also important to set the right expectations regarding the process, goals, and outcomes. If stakeholders have misaligned expectations due to inconsistent messaging, they can easily become confused, disappointed, and resistant.
How to align your communications
It’s important that your organisation has a clear understanding of its purpose, goals, and processes for achieving them. If those foundations are in place, it’s easier to create a consistent stakeholder communications strategy for your team.
However, If you don’t have a place to store and access stakeholder interactions, your messaging could become disjointed. A stakeholder complaint could be issued at any point in time and your entire team needs to be empowered with context.
A stakeholder relationship management platform is a central place to record stakeholder interactions, keep track of important issues, and understand sentiment. It should also help you to share relevant updates with different stakeholder segments.
Shaping the narrative with consistent messaging is completely in reach when you have the right structure and systems in place.
Set your team up for future success
A consistent communications plan will build a positive reputation and set your team up for future success. When stakeholders know that your message matches your actions, they will want to work with your team on future projects.