If you feel like you’re constantly running around trying to keep everyone happy and never quite getting there, it might help to slow down and invest some time thinking about who your stakeholders are or, more accurately, which stakeholders you really care about.

This works on every level.  You can usefully do this thinking for your Company, for a department or for yourself as an individual.


Boardroom Exercise

I’d recommend a pen and paper exercise, drawing a quick Board Table and then putting each of your different Stakeholders in a different seat around the table.  I’d make it as specific as possible.  Rather than Customers, I’d add in your perfect Target Customer, ideally an actual individual who most closely represents this.  There may be more than one of course, with different needs.  Don’t forget the Tax Man, Staff, Life Partner, Kids – it can get pretty crowded, pretty quickly!

Having overfilled your Board Room, the next step is to think long and hard about who you really want and need to have sitting at the top table.  You may want to keep all of them happy, but which are the ones that are business critical or life critical?  Who do you want to be one step ahead of, anticipating their needs, giving them what they want before they know they want it?  The others you can shuffle off to a side committee, or just strike off the list altogether.

The same logic can usefully be applied in a more specific way.  Just look at your support network.  Who are the people you rely on at the moment? And who would you like to be able to turn to? Compare that Board Table you’ve actually got to the one you would ideally want.  Is there scope to make a few substitutions and to add a few people in to your team?

Note that this can be a mix of people who will actually talk to for support and advice, or “virtual” people that you keep inside your head.  For example, “What would Andrew do in this situation?”


Click on the following link to explore the world more specifically from your boss’s point of view