The Trellis of Sustainability: Engaged Stakeholders

Engaging the stakeholders of an organization is crucial for ensuring its sustainability. Engaged customers, employees and even industry rivals make up a cohesive trellis on which an organization can grow securely.

At the very beginning however, it is important to analyse how an organization views its stakeholders. Are stakeholders the means to achieve the end of results or are they the end themselves; securing results as they grow?

We at Schuitema profess strongly that for any organization to flourish, its stakeholders must be viewed as an end to the means of results. The focus of the organization must be to serve stakeholders indiscriminately. And, the process leads to remarkable results.

How to Serve the stakeholder?

The foundation of serving stakeholders lies in giving them significance. And giving significance is really about giving respect to the other. Giving respect in turn, achieves stakeholder engagement in extraordinary ways.

When a stakeholder, for instance the employee, is recognised as the goal of the game, the focus of the organization switches from what it can get out of the employee to what it can give to the employee. That, is also the essence of social responsibility.

There are two important ways that an organization can serve its employees:

1. Affirming the Individual:

Schuitema’s Care and Growth Leadership™ Model advocates that an individual working for an organization must be cared for. This care goes beyond the immediate results the individual is supposed to secure for the organization. So the individual is not just a toolkit, but a human being with aspirations and emotions.

Telenor, our client for the Care and Growth Leadership™ Model has practiced this philosophy in interesting ways. The company invests a huge amount of money in gauging employee concerns, aspirations and responses to work demands. A survey called IVC (Internal Value Creation) is managed by an external party and asks employees questions about their work/life balance at the company or how their work has been made easier by their bosses. The company adjusts its own dynamics for employees according to these responses – thus realizing the benefits of the hard work behind the survey.

Recently Telenor Pakistan also initiated a campaign where employees submitted true stories of how they lived the core values of the company. Even though most stories had nothing to do with work, the company appreciated the best responses with a view towards affirming the individuals working with it.

Telenor’s management believes that since steps like these have been taken to give significance to the employees, the company has been earning accolades for being one of the best employers in the country… And, the company is also doing very well from a business point of view. No surprise there for stakeholder engagement proponents.

2. Keeping the best interest of the individual in mind:

Serving employees in the best possible way also includes treating them appropriately in a given situation.

Serving and giving significance in an organization should not be misconstrued to mean management that is soft on all issues; including accountability. For instance, if an employee, despite having the Means (infrastructure, tools and systems required to do the task) and Ability (knowing how to perform a task and why it needs to be done) to deliver, shows consistent poor performance against the specified standards, then it is in the employee’s best interest to be held accountable for the lack of performance.

A workforce that feels accountable towards performing and has been given the means and ability to work, is an engaged team. No wonder that in many government sector concerns of Pakistan, where holding people accountable for their performance is often a low priority issue, workforce can be disengaged and do not act in sync with the objectives of the very organization they work for.

These two criteria form the foundation of the trellis of engaged stakeholders – who in turn spell the organization’s sustainability.

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Author Information

Afia is an Associate with Schuitema, a business growth and transformation consultancy based in South Africa. She has also been writing on media, culture and issues of social concern in various publications since a decade.

2 Responses to “The Trellis of Sustainability: Engaged Stakeholders”

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    August 7, 2010 at 3:18 am Reply
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    Great, I never knew this, thanks.

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