In today’s workplace, influencing has become more important than ever. Why? Organizational hierarchies have flattened; people work more closely with other departments on company projects.  Cross-functional teams must complete tasks on tight deadlines. Cooperation among employees is critical, and that may mean peers influencing each other to get things done in a timely way—reprioritizing their primary workload. It’s not easy to influence another person to meet your deadline when they have many of their own. Sometimes the completion of the task doesn’t translate into bonuses or performance evaluations for people outside the department. In this situation, personal influencing becomes not only a “nice to have” but also a “need to have” skill. For successful outcomes, individuals must build personal influencing teamwork skills.

So given these new realities, how to influence successfully?  When people think about influencing, their natural instinct is to first consider their own agenda—“What do I need from this person?”  This can be misguided. A more advantageous approach is to borrow from the classic “WIFM” (what’s in it for me?) approach.  Put yourself in their shoes, get at what motivates them, and show how your project can provide that.

Further analysis includes a few additional questions such as:

  • “What does this person want or need?” Is it reward, recognition, a job well done, a team effort?
  • “What may I do for this person in the future?” What would be a trade-off so that there is a mutual benefit?
  • “Why would completing this task be advantageous to this person?” Learning opportunity, additional experience, connecting with people they wouldn’t normally do so, fun, resume building?
  • “What unique skills does this person bring to the task?” How can this project reinforce their strengths?

Answering these questions before meeting with the person will result in better influencing your business partner to make a maximum contribution

Using this method, influencing is less about getting somebody to do what you want them to do and more about building a better relationship.  That outcome is more useful, more sustainable, and more successful.

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