Persistence and diplomacy build great stakeholder relations

26 October 2012

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26 October 2012 | Paul Snell

Perseverance is often the key to developing great stakeholder relationships, according to Michelle Hanson, commercial director at Sodexo UK and Ireland.

When asked by SM her advice for buyers building stakeholder relationships she said it is pointless taking offence when end users are dissatisfied with ideas or plans.

“You have to be prepared that when you ask people’s opinions, when you don’t like what they say, you can’t then throw your toys out and decide you are going to ignore them,” she said.

Hanson, who has been a stakeholder dealing with procurement in previous roles in her career, explained tact and diplomacy were key abilities when dealing with negative feedback.

“Something I have really been able to add for [my team] is [to explain] when to take a deep breath and when to just bite your lip. Because we are not going to please all the people all of the time, but a constructive conversation is so much more beneficial than a bust-up. It is such a waste of time having to go back and repair damaged relationships, when with a little bit more consideration you can have a very robust debate, but at least let’s keep it constructive.”

To win stakeholders over Hanson recommended two strategies - bring great deals to the table and make sure you anticipate concerns they may have.

“I would say to a buyer; be bold – go for big deals; know your subject, and anticipate where you are going to see resistance and be prepared. If you get ambushed, quite frankly you deserve to be sent packing.”

A full interview with Michelle Hanson will appear in an upcoming edition of Supply Management.

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