Managing Change Strategically: Stakeholder Mapping

Change at work is a more complex process than most realise, with between 50-70% of workplace initiatives destined to fail. This is actually unsurprising as while most change initiatives are well thought through on the practical level with the aid of project planning tools like action plans and gantt charts, the people side of change is often overlooked - And change is fundamentally about the people who will have to implement change and live with the results.

Similar to planning tools that assist with organising the logistical side of change, people focused change management frameworks can help us to break down the complexity of change on the people side to increase our chances of success. A people focused change framework that I have found exceptionally useful when navigating change at work is the Stakeholder Change Management Matrix (Figure 1).

Like any good framework completing the Stakeholder Change Management Matrix is relatively straight forward and can result in significant insights, allowing change leaders to better understand change stakeholders, and strategically focus their time and effort on the most critical stakeholder groups as a result.

Influence and Interest

Within the matrix stakeholders are categorised into four groups:

  • Minimal Effort - Starting at the bottom left quadrant, stakeholders within this group are uninterested in the change process and outcome. Additionally, they have little ability to influence the change. Including this group in any high-level business wide updates on the change will often satisfy this group.
  • Keep Informed - Moving to the right we see stakeholders who have little influence on the outcome of the change, but have a high level of interest in what’s going on. Failing to identify this group can be costly as they can try to become overly involved in the change initiative. It is recommended to create a communication strategy centred around clear and frequent updates on the change to satisfy this group.
  • Keep Satisfied - Moving to the top left-hand quadrant we see stakeholders who hold significant influence within the organisation, but are generally uninterested in the change initiative. Given their low level of interest this group won’t interfere with day to day change efforts. However, it’s important to keep them apprised of key developments and seek occasional input as they have the ability to derail change if they become displeased with what’s occurring.
  • Key Players - In the top right-hand quadrant of the matrix we have our Key Players. This stakeholder group holds a large degree of power over the eventual success of the change and are heavily invested in the outcome of the change. This group will require the most time and energy throughout the change process.

Golden Carrots and Deal Breakers of Change

Once we’ve identified our stakeholders, our change strategy can be further informed by identifying stakeholders’ key needs (desired positive outcomes), and key concerns (the deal breakers that would cause them to object to the change).

Getting the message right: Communication style

A final aspect that the matrix assists us to consider is the style of communication that our stakeholders will be most receptive to:

  • Conceptually (why) focused - These stakeholders are “big picture thinkers” concerned with strategy, or imaginative (creative) ways of seeing the world.
  • People (who) focus - These stakeholders are concerned with how changes affect people. They have high regard for the feelings of others (empathising), and the cohesion of the group.
  • Detail (how) focused - These stakeholders are concerned with a steady structured approach to change through organising information, or preserving the status quo.
  • Action (what) focused - These stakeholders have a bias for “doing”. They are realists, with a heavy focus on data and logic.

The most effective change leaders are able to identify their own communication style preferences as well as the communication style preferences of key stakeholders, adjusting their personal communication style accordingly.

Bringing it together

Change is fundamentally about the people who will have to implement change and live with the results. Using the Stakeholder Change Management Matrix to systematically map stakeholders at the beginning of a change project (and periodically reassessing these mappings) in order to tailor your change strategy will undoubtedly create clarity in the complex world of workplace change and increase your organisation’s change success.


HR Business Direction can assist you to strategically navigate the complexities of workplace change, increasing your organisation’s change success.


Alistair Kerr, MPsychOrg; PostGradDip Psych; BPsych

Organisaitonal Development Strategist | Psychologist

07 3890 2066

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