Whether we like it or not, influencing plays a part in everyone’s lives. Despite the negative connotations associated with the word (think disingenuous shop salesman who pretends to be your best friend), influencing others should be seen positively. It can help you convince your partner where to go for dinner tonight, or even to persuade the kids to do their homework!
However, it is in the context of the workplace in which I wanted to approach this topic, with inspiration coming from an event I recently attended (hosted by the amazing guys at Bec Development) on how to seriously influence those you work with. Here are three tips I learnt from it:
If you are trying to implement something totally new within your company it is likely to encounter some resistance from staff. People don’t always enjoy change, however small. Yet what matters is to build advocates (even if it is just one or two colleagues) who share your vision and let them spread the word positively. You can do this by speaking directly with a colleague to convey the ‘why’ behind the new thing (whatever it may be) so he or she can see how it benefits them. They can then share the message informally with others and once staff see behavioural change from their peers, then they are more inclined to follow suit.
The office identity
Tapping into the cultural identity to win staff over is a personable approach which can help influence. Find out the positive identity of the staff. What makes them tick? Is it the informality of the office? The music blaring out whilst working? If we define culture as simply shared attitudes, values and beliefs of the people then it makes sense to relate to this and join in. This will help bring you closer to your colleagues at a personal level, which is when you can be trusted, and people will begin to listen to you as you assert influence. Have your music playlist ready and join the Spotify queue!
Be consistent with your colleagues. If you execute your tasks on time, day after day, eventually people will come to rely on you. The same can be said when you execute a consistent style of management, set consistent expectations with your colleagues and provide consistent rewards for good work. People will come to rely on your behaviour. If you’re consistently motivated by the same principles, people will trust that your ideas are solid and reliable as an extension, and that will make it easier to get people on side.
More than anything, being able to influence does not mean it has to come from a manager. Anyone, at any level can – and should – be able to apply principles such as those above to their working day to influence and gain the respect that all employees deserve in the workplace.
Kedesh Mather, Senior Account Director