Managing stakeholders

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

As with anything in life, understanding and nurturing human relationships is at the forefront of everything we do. In the workplace being able to identify and analyse key groups that have a vested interest in your business is prudent to be able to advance a project. Famous for his work on stakeholder management, Peter Blocks broadly defined five key categories of stakeholders and defined them in varying degrees of being in high agreement or outright opposed to an organisations strategy or objectives.



The five categories include:

1. Allies (High Trust/High Agreement)


This is a no brainer – they share your level of enthusiasm and support you wholeheartedly.

2. Adversaries (Low Trust/Low Agreement)


Those that fall into this category are because we have failed to negotiate an agreement or build trust with them. This does not mean we haven’t tried hard to do this, but only that they won’t cooperate or have a radically different vision. If you confirm your Boss is an adversary, be prepared to move on. If a subordinate is an adversary, the nicest thing you can do is help them to move on.

3. Bedfellows (High Agreement/Low Trust)


They profess agreement with you on many topics, but you do not feel that you have a trusting relationship. This can be common in non-Western business contexts.

4. Fence Sitters (Low Trust/Unknown Agreement)


These are often the ultimate bureaucrats and time wasters. Time is scarce, best not to waste your time with this group.

5. Opponents (High Trust/Low Agreement):


Opponents offer a high level of trust, but they simply disagree with your concept or project. With some careful nurturing, this group can be powerful and result in a better product or service offering. Getting a deep insight as to why they disagree with you will help start this process.

Being able to identify which category someone falls into ultimately helps you manage more effectively. For example, suppose your employee has a high level of trust but doesn’t agree with your decision to remove the flexible working arrangements policy from your Tasmanian office. Getting a deep understanding as to why they feel it is a bad idea may help. You may not be aware of the fact that, for example, the workers out of the Tasmanian office comprise mainly of single parents and we could potentially lose employees out of the process.