11 April 2018

Why are you even talking?

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If you look up the definition of stakeholder engagement, in its simplest form, it is a transaction.

But for me, it’s not about what format or what channels to use or how many times or who is responsible for the communicating. These are important components, and certainly should be addressed but in my view, the most crucial element of the equation that needs to be answered first and foremost is the WHY.

Why should I communicate with this person? And equally… Why would this person want me to engage with me?

To understand the why, our role as a chief communicator, head of function, trusted adviser, or whatever it may be called, it helps if we have an inquisitive mind in everything you do.

I’m constantly imploring my team to question everything. The ‘why’ – why are we doing this a specific way? Why have we not tried this before? Why have we not thought about this way or that…? Why are we still doing this? and the questions can go on and on.

Understanding the why is critical to trying to influence and sustaining effective stakeholder engagement. As we delve into the WHY, essentially what we are determining is the degree of value we are going to deliver.

So keep questioning. Never stop asking questions. If you don’t understand the ‘why’ then how do you expect to communicate the what to your customer?

I will always remember what a wise man once told me; the smartest person in the room is not the one with the right answer, it’s the one with the right question.

Written by: Joe Adamo, General Manager Public Affairs at AEMO

With over 15 years experience in the Public Affairs sector, Joe Adamo has built a reputation of ingraining corporate affairs as a critical business function that will help shape and drive an organisation's narrative and deliver measurable stakeholder value.

Mr Adamo has spent more than half his career within the energy sector, and is currently the Executive General Manager of Public Affairs at Australian Energy Market Operator.

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