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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 24, 2021

Consider Secondary Stakeholders When Conveying Accomplishments

Submitted by Chris Onstad

We are coming into that time of year where we communicate to a set of our primary stakeholders, extension board or governing body members. These folks are great advocates about what we have achieved throughout the last year, so empower them with great success stories and the impact of your endeavors!

As public employees, we tend to be highly visible to the public and having formal communication with those secondary stakeholders helps build stronger relationships. This is where much of the disruption that we encounter tends to occur due to misunderstandings or lack of communication.

If you haven’t already, you might want to consider creating a communication with secondary stakeholders. These tend to be the people that extension programming affects but we don’t have direct responsibility of reporting.

Posting your progress or accomplishments on the local website is a great start! Also, be thinking about secondary stakeholders of which can be described by four types according to the company, Swift Digital: Downwards, Upwards, Sideways and Outwards.

The Downwards secondary stakeholders are folks that work on the project including the support personnel and coworkers who have likely invested considerable time in the project. Solid communication here tends to build relationships that will increase programming capacity for the entire office. Including OPs in regular office meetings prevents isolation and contributes to office harmony and better programming. This tends to be even more important when there are multiple offices in a district.

The Upwards stakeholders are those that have sponsored a project or have an investment in the project such as managers, grantors, or a donor. In some cases, it is required, but letting a donor know the impact of their donation might open the door to other opportunities. Of course, county commissioners are always concerned about the funding that goes to extension, so regular communications are important.

Sideways stakeholders are those in competition for resources or have similar objectives. This could be important in the development of future relationships and projects. An example may be where extension does the educational work with our state or local regulatory agencies. Schools that work toward the same objectives as our youth development program are another example of Sideways stakeholders.

The final stakeholder type is the Outwards group that are normally external to the ongoing project, but potentially affected. For example, families in the community that can be exposed to a food borne illness from local produce or an agriculture producer’s bottom line where extension evaluated new corn hybrids. Don’t be surprised if these folks have different requests and needs that spring from the new information, which is a good thing. Interest sparks inquisitive minds!