When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line

A question we hear time and time again from our clients is how to tackle difficult engagement.

Whether it be highly emotional issues, opposing viewpoints, lack of strategic direction, or differing levels of commitment – engagement can stop short in its tracks without the right approach.

The following tips will help you to navigate often tricky situations:

  1. Understand your stakeholders and their needs. Undertake a risk analysis to ensure you know their key issues, concerns, requirements and how you might approach the engagement.
  2. Have clear objectives around the engagement, don’t stray away from what you are trying to achieve. This is when things can become challenging.
  3. As the engagement progresses, be prepared to make changes. Engagement pathways can change depending on influencing factors such as political or social environments.
  4. Treat everyone with respect, give them equal voices and make them feel heard. You may need to make tough decisions along the way, but your process will be respected.
  5. Keep records, follow up, communicate outcomes and be willing to accept feedback on your approach.
  6. Try to keep the emotion out of it. Stakeholders can get emotional about an issue, but as professionals your job is to be objective with your approach.
  7. When you feel your engagement is not fulfilling its objectives, or there’s a lack of commitment, review what you’ve done and re-assess your strategy. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach.