Organizational Change Management - What is a Stakeholder?

Organizational Change Management – What is a Stakeholder?

One of the key elements of a thorough approach to organizational change management (OCM) is assessing how the change impacts an organization’s “stakeholders”. Those anticipated to be affected and the relevant impacts are captured in the aptly named stakeholder assessment.

But being able to accurately make that assessment hinges on an understanding of who falls into that category as a stakeholder. The obvious – and most common – answer is “employees.” Fair enough. But understanding the impact of a change often requires more specificity. Are we talking about employees across the entire organization, or just in one division or business unit? Employees in a certain role or function? Union employees? Management employees? Employees in a specific location or locations?

Accurately understanding and accounting for the impact of a change often requires a matrixed approach to documenting how it will affect multiple employee demographics.

For example, something as simple as the implementation of a new software program will certainly affect the employees who will be expected to use it daily to do their jobs. It may also affect a larger group of employees who use data generated by the new program, executives who will be expected to make decisions with that data, and administrators who will be charged with maintaining the program.

A change may also impact parties that are external to the organization but still have an interest in its performance. In this way, such groups as suppliers, customers, investors, and regulators can also be considered stakeholders.

Any comprehensive stakeholder assessment needs to cast a wide net and consider the impact of a change on any and every group that could have an interest and be affected by it. Any group that can affect the adoption and ultimate success of a change process needs to be recognized in the change plan.