Ever wondered how your colleague got promoted before you did? Or how Jill in accounting seems to be across every aspect of the business from the kitchen to the boardroom and works it to her advantage?
Influence strategy is crucial for achieving your goals for your career and business. Why?Because your influence skills are what get the people around you to take action on your ideas and recommendations. Influence is a fine art but rather than being about Machiavellian manipulation, it’s a strategy that anyone can master.
It’s a common misconception that influence is the same thing as effective communication. Granted, communication is a crucial part of successful influence but it is just one component. Here are the three P’s to mastering influence strategy in the workplace.
- Power: instead of relying solely on positional power, build relationships across the board
Rather than just leveraging a high position of power (like a managerial role), influencers build relationships at all levels. Building relationships is crucial in today’s global organizations. Successful influencers develop alliances and connections because positional power only goes so far. You can build relationships by…
- Forming alliances – join with others who can help you get results you’re expected to deliver on.
- Forming connections – connect with those who can help remove barriers, get your work noticed and get you in front of key decision makers.
Both approaches contribute significantly to moving your projects forward and to you being viewed as an influential leader. In addition to optimizing visibility, alliances and connections also create information channels, which are important sources for knowing what’s happening in your network. The end result puts you in a more powerful position.
2. Politics: Pay attention to office and organizational politics
Politics at work are inevitable and they don’t have to be dirty. If the term politics makes you uncomfortable, think of it this way: being politically astute gives you access to people and information. The gateway to having this access is knowing how to manage relationships so that you can get decisions pushed through the right channels in the right way at the right time.
Here’s how to harness office politics…
- Be politically aware, which means knowing who has the power, what power they hold and how to successfully work with those who have it.
- Distinguish what leadership considers top priority, mildly important, and trivial — and make their main concerns yours.
- Be familiar with the unspoken rules in the organization and follow them. Rules apply to the way things are done, and how to get things accomplished through formal and informal processes. They also apply to people – for instance, how to interact effectively with certain personalities. Rules are also about adhering to behavior and dress codes. Rules vary in each company and can be different in departments within an organization.
3. Planning: Don’t wing it – plan ahead
Successful influencers know they have to plan ahead for every influence situation. There are two situations you need to master when planning…
- Simple influence situations, involving only one issue, one decision maker, and one conversation. Plan your proposal to best align with the decision maker’s concerns. Also plan ahead for why the decision maker might say no and prepare work-arounds for any issues that might arise.
- Complex influence situations, involving more than one decision maker, multi-layered issues, multiple conversations, and with the potential for wider impact. It’s important to understand ahead of time what the needs, values, and even communication styles of the decision makers are.
When planning for either situation, do a thorough inventory of who influences decision makers, as well as of who will be affected by the proposal. Next, plan your timing, carefully considering who needs to be approached when and in what order. And always prepare for why decision makers might say no.
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These tips come directly from our secret formula for getting results at work taught as part of The Influence Roadmap® program. We developed The Influence Roadmap® so that talented, capable problem-solvers can increase their impact by skipping the uphill battles and getting the green light on their recommendations and proposals with ease.
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