How to succeed in L&D: Managing stakeholders

Krystyna Gadd suggests an approach to managing stakeholders to become more business focused and ultimately improve the performance of both individuals and the organisation you work for.

I’m going to show you how to create a plan for managing your stakeholders, so you can target the right people to work with. 

Ultimately, if what you do helps improve the overall performance of your organisation in some way, you’re more likely to get the resources you need to do the job you want and need to do. So the first step is always going to be to align yourself with the organisation.  

But who is the organisation? Realistically it’s a group of individuals all with their own priorities, which all somehow need to help the organisation achieve its goals. So it’s important to nurture the right relationships with the right people in the right way to partner with them effectively.

Rosemary Harrison¹, fellow of the CIPD and a leading academic and author in L&D, said in 2008: “Strategic business partnerships between L&D professionals and senior managers may still be relatively rare but strategically focused partnerships at middle management level are increasingly expected.” Have things changed much since 2008?  

Within the top deck, or highest performing organisations identified by Towards Maturity² in 2017, 91% of learning practitioners said business leaders recognised that learning interventions should be aligned with the overall business plan. This ‘top deck’ is something to aspire to but unfortunately isn’t representative of what is happening more generally in L&D. If you want to take the first step towards business partnering, this stakeholder analysis grid³ will help. From this very simple tool you can identify those stakeholders you need to spend most time with, to find out what is really important to them.

The stakeholder analysis grid


How to use the grid

Categorise your stakeholders according to the grid above:

  • Undead These are people who have little impact in the business and offer you little support. Spend as little time as possible with this group.
  • Snipers These people offer little support but have a high impact in the business. If you can win these people over, they’ll become evangelists who’ll not only support you, but will get things done for you. Win them over by demonstrating the value you bring. Speak to them on their terms about what you can do for them.
  • Networkers These people may offer lots of support but have little impact. They may boost your morale when you need it but have little influence to get things moving in the organisation. Keep them on board and watch out, because their influence may grow.
  • Evangelists These are your greatest supporters with a high level of impact. They’re the movers and shakers in an organisation. Spend most of your time with these people and keep them sweet: they can exert influence where you cannot.

In part two, I’ll be looking at the next steps to take to succeed in L&D. 


About Krystyna Gadd

Krystyna Gadd is an L&D consultant with over 30 years experience in the field. With her background as an engineer, Krystyna applies the same process thinking to L&D as she did in her former career. Her aim is to help elevate the L&D profession by helping professionals to align themselves more closely to the organisations they work with, but also in a creative way.

Find out more and buy Krys’s book How Not To Waste Your Money On Training at


1) Learning & Development, Rosemary Harrison, 2008 CIPD

2) Driving the New Learning Organisation, Daly, J. and Overton, L. 2017. Towards Maturity

3) Stakeholder Mapping, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Information Systems, Mendelow, A. 1991. cited in Exploring Corporate Strategy, Johnson, G. and Scholes, K. 2002. Financial Times Prentice Hall

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