Governance

University Policy Library - Effective Stakeholder Engagement

Contact

Staff are encouraged to contact the nominated ‘Contact Position’ detailed at the bottom of each individual University Policy where policy-specific information is required. 

For general academic policy related queries, contact the Academic Secretary.

What are Stakeholders?

Stakeholders are those individuals/work areas who may affect and/or be affected by a University policy. Stakeholders are likely to have distinct needs and levels of involvement, often with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests and concerns.

What is Stakeholder Engagement?

Stakeholder engagement is about engaging the relevant people, at the right time and in the most appropriate manner. All University policies have stakeholders with varying degrees of influence, involvement and interest.

What are the Benefits of Effective Stakeholder Engagement?

When executed effectively, stakeholder engagement can be used to:

  • Gather information;
  • Obtain buy-in and ongoing support;
  • Build trust between sections and stakeholders;
  • Improve communication;
  • Enhance reputation;
  • Lead to more equitable and sustainable decision-making; and
  • Encourage ownership and uptake of the policy

Identifying Stakeholders

When identifying stakeholders, it is important to take time to stop and think broadly to ensure all relevant stakeholders are recognised. Consider the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for approving the policy?
  • Which sections are responsible for implementing the policy?
  • Who could be the key representatives of staff and/or students affected by this policy?
  • Why would each stakeholder want to engage with you?

It is useful to document the stakeholder list and the likely level of interest/influence each stakeholder may have in the development or review of policy.

How to effectively engage stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement is an iterative process, which needs to occur throughout policy development and review process.

There is no right or wrong way to engage with stakeholders. Take time to review the stakeholder list and identify:

  • What the stakeholder needs to know?
  • The best way to interact with them, for example individually or in a group(s), face-to-face, and/or email. 

As you begin to engage with stakeholders you should also ask who else they think you should engage with.

Stakeholder engagement is most effective when:

  • Stakeholders recognise the mutual benefits of collaboration, for example enhanced outcomes.
  • Early input and ongoing involvement in policy development process ensures that policy meets all needs rather than late engagement which can adversely impact timelines, implementation and working relationships
  • Policy development is informed by practical needs (such as streamlining processes, enhancing administrative efficiencies and effectiveness) to ensure the policy’s currency and agility.

Due to the iterative nature of policy development and review, it is important to monitor the success of the level of engagement at regular intervals by asking questions such as ‘Has the engagement process delivered the intended outcomes?’

Barriers to Successful Stakeholder Engagement

It is important to recognise that some individuals and groups may find it difficult to take up your invitation to engage, or that circumstances may hinder them from fully contributing to the engagement process/ policy development process. This could, for example, be due to lack of time or gaps in their knowledge.

However, it is important that the right combination of people be in the room to complete the full picture and ensure that the impact of implementing a new policy, or review of a policy, is considered holistically. Once identified as a stakeholder, every stakeholder’s perspective is valuable and will inform the end-result.  However It may be necessary to manage stakeholders differently to avoid excluding key stakeholders or to prevent them from disengaging.