Stakeholders include anybody that has a stake in how your business performs. This can include investors, employees, families of employees, managers, vendors, lenders and the community, to give a few examples. When you have the confidence of stakeholders, you will spend less time justifying your decisions. You'll also find it easier to expand and grow, because your stakeholders will help smooth the way when they trust you and your motives.
Linking Your Objectives to Stakeholder Interests
You can gain stakeholders' confidence when you clearly state how your business objectives affect their interests. For example, if you can demonstrate how introducing a new product line can increase your ability to pay higher wages, your employees may be enthusiastic about the initiative. Similarly, a lender who has watched you grow and pay your loan payments on time may see an expansion as an opportunity to increase loan revenue. The confidence of such a lender can help you gain new financing, because your objectives align with that lender's interests. If you get in the habit of clearly stating exactly how your objectives match stakeholder interests, you will stand a better chance of gaining their confidence.
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Providing Criteria for Decisions
When you present decisions to stakeholders, you can increase their confidence in you by explaining how you arrived at those decisions. Lining up facts, figures, projections and examples taken from other successful businesses can help stakeholders understand your thinking. If they see the reasonableness of your decision-making process, they can be confident that they have a level-headed businessperson at the helm. If you present decisions without explaining them, stakeholders may come to see you as impulsive and lose confidence in you.
Nothing erodes confidence like deception. If you report failures and successes without misleading stakeholders, they may gain confidence in your character. In the future, when you have a success to report, they can trust that you are being transparent, because you reported problems and failures in the past with candor. If you start spinning all your messages to increase stakeholder approval of your actions, they may soon suspect that they are not adequately informed, and they may lose confidence in you.
Confidence comes from experience. As your track record of successful business grows, so will stakeholder confidence. It's not bragging to celebrate and reiterate your successes as you communicate with stakeholders. In fact, they may have overlooked a successful decision on your part or they may have forgotten how one of your initiatives paid off. Reminding them can increase their confidence in your abilities.