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How to make decisions that make all stakeholders happy

By Atip Muangsuwan

“Stakeholder engagement is a never-ending process. We have to continually earn stakeholders’ confidence. It’s a relationship.” — Wouter Vermeulen, Corporate Responsibility Director, Coca-Cola Europe.

One of my corporate-leader clients showed up with his coaching topic: “How can I make decisions that make all stakeholders happy?”

He told me that it’s very difficult for him to make a decision that would make and keep all the stakeholders happy.

We explored his issue thru our coaching conversation. In our conversation, I asked him to clarify who are all his stakeholders. This leader client worked in a gigantic IT company and he had over 300 employees work under him. He also had a few bosses above him. In addition, he had many clients from other companies who were his regular clients. Last but not least, he had his suppliers who regularly supplied the electronic parts to his company. So, there were 4 key stakeholders that he needed to deal with on a regular basis. They’re his subordinates, bosses, clients and suppliers.

The main issue that he had to deal with was the case that… the clients pushed for the product delivery dates that they want; whereas, his subordinates couldn’t finish the products and deliver them within those required deadlines. One of the main causes was due to delayed delivery of electronic parts from the suppliers. And this incident also made his bosses unhappy. When the clients are not happy, the bosses are not happy, either! This is like a domino effect!

If my client made a decision to protect his subordinates by deferring product delivery deadline, then this would make his clients unhappy. However, if he made a decision to request for increasing manpower/resources in order to be able to deliver the product on time, this would make his bosses unhappy because this would add more costs.

Or if he decided to ask his subordinates to work overtime, they wouldn’t be happy, either.

Or if he decided to have a penalty fee or fine for the suppliers who supply the electronic parts later than plan, then the suppliers wouldn’t be happy as well.

Hence, my client was facing a serious dilemma of decision-making in order to make and keep all stakeholders happy.

After he and I worked together in our coaching session, we could come up with key strategies to support him.

Here are the key strategies that fit for his situation and context.

  1. Engage all stakeholders regularly and continually.
  2. Set stakeholders meetings regularly in order to update the project status and keep everyone on the same page.
  3. Set agreements and shared or common goals with all stakeholders.
  4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
    Communication is the key. So, keep communicating with all stakeholders regularly and consistently.
  5. Make decisions in a way that honors the set agreements and shared goals.

3 months later, he shared with me that his decision-making skill was totally transformed. He could make decisions that make and keep all the stakeholders happy. This is because he had applied those above strategies rigorously.

Another key insight I’ve got from this coaching conversation is that… “To make and keep all stakeholders happy, we need to consistently engage, communicate and think win-win for all parties.”

If you want a transformation in your decision-making skill like this client of mine did, you can get in touch with me via my homepage for a discovery session @ Home – The Best Coach International (thebest-coach-international.com)

To your transformation,

Coach Atip