Sunday 21 July 2013

Stakeholder Consultation – Are We Far Enough Up The Ladder?

Consulting with your stakeholders is an imperative in many business situations and it won’t surprise you to know that there is a ladder of engagement levels depending on the relationship between management and the stakeholders .  For QVM Traders the question is quite simple. Are we far enough up the consultancy ladder?

In businesses with employee/employer relationships the employees are generally a fair way down the ladder. You are paid to do what needs to be done – management decides what those tasks are. At QVM it is a little more complex. Instead of something like 800 employees, there are 800 small businesses and traders make critical decisions concerning their businesses every day. QVM provide the environment in which we operate and it is fair to say that traders have a right to determine aspects of that environment. As we enter a renewal phase at QVM the detail of stakeholder engagement becomes more critical.

Presumably QVM (and the Board and the Council) believe they are consulting adequately with us. But if that is so, why weren’t we involved in the discussion on turning JKL sheds into a multi-purpose centre, why don’t we know the options that were put to the State Government in support of financing a renewal, why did we have to get access to the Essential Economics report on QVM (Considerations For A Long term Strategy) through Freedom of Information and why do we feel that there are many issues being discussed at various levels of management and council that have little or no input from us?  

Stakeholder engagement is often described using terms like “top-down” and “bottom-up”. Top-down engagement involves management deciding what is to happen and passing that on to stakeholders. “Bottom-up” engagement is the stakeholders deciding what needs to be done and largely setting the agenda. There are advantages and disadvantages in both approaches and it is fair to say that modern stakeholder engagement includes elements of both. Following is an example of a stakeholder consultancy ladder showing the different levels of engagement.

Where do you think we sit? Where should we sit? How do we ensure that trader expertise is included in issues where it is really needed?

Have Your Say - click here.

22/7/2013 - 0845 - Stakeholder Consultation - "At the end of the day the QVM is a business, and in all businesses there are always two sides to each decision making coin. A) We voted the Melbourne councillors in office, so let them do their job, or B) You (QVM) can't have too much information when making a decision. To mix metephors, you can't have 800 pilots flying the plane but you can ask the people at the coalface what they think. It is a real pity that the "them and us" attitude exists when it would be so easy to engage. However, in the end, the Council will do what it wants to do and the stall holders will have to suck it up or move on.
We have no real power to insist on being involved in decision making while we move in 800 different directions." Terry Lawn

22/7/2013 - 21:07 - Our Rights - "This is the problem that we have, as I have said before and I will continue to say, we all need to stick together and say what we want to see happen, but we don't. A lot of traders are too scared to stand up and fight as they don't want to lose their stalls or others don't care as they'll just sell their stall and move on or they are only in the market at the moment to make a quick few dollars. We need to engage the media if we don't start getting more of a say and being informed of what the future plans are." Leah