Effective Communications with Internal Stakeholders

Maintaining effective communications with key stakeholders within your institution or enterprise (i.e. inventors, attorneys, administrators, financial, or public relations personnel, etc.) sounds easy, but quite often is considerably more challenging and resource intensive than we expect. Many of us are working with colleagues who have too many demands placed on them with too few resources and too little time. My tips for effective communications include following techniques.

 

1.     Empathy. View your role as a “service provider” and think of your internal colleagues and associates as “customers” and “suppliers”. With this perspective, it is important to invest time to understand your customer’s goals, objectives, issues, and challenges which can be accomplished by exercising effective listing skills during your interactions.

 

2.    Communication. It is almost impossible to over-communicate today with the amount of information transmitted continuously across your organization. Be proactive in your communications and attempt to speak in the language of your customer (i.e. beware of acronyms and internal office or industry vernacular). During your interactions pay close attention that your colleagues are actually listening to you and acknowledging your dialog. Far too often our colleagues may be paralyzed from information and assignment overload.

 

3.    Understanding. Invest adequate time to ensure that you fully understand the needs and expectations from your customers. Identify the specific criteria for success for both parties and seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements. Always keep in mind that last minute changes are considerably more expensive than getting it right the first time or making the necessary course corrections early in the process.

 

4.    Commitment. Prioritize your projects and your time on a continuous basis. Remain attentive to key milestones and events and keep in mind that “no” is an acceptable answer if your current priorities do not permit you change direction or commit to additional actions (of course, most things are negotiable). Bottom line is that results are generally commensurate with investments in both time and resources.

 

5.     Relationships. It is quite advantageous to build relationships proactively. Your network of professional contacts can often be leveraged to your advantage to connect with key influencers and decision-makers across your institution. It is also important to remember that initial impressions are very difficult to change so initiating any new relationships in a positive manner will often set you off on a trajectory for success.

 

Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communicators are often associated with delivering positive results. Maintaining this type of reputation will position you and your organization for successful working relationships across your institution.

 

—By Jack Spain

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