Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

Safia Syed, a re­gional fi­nance con­troller at a global out­sourc­ing com­pany, no­ticed that any time she sug­gested an im­prove­ment to a fi­nan­cial or in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tem, col­leagues re­sisted.

Her ideas went through numer­ous rounds of re­view and were heav­ily ques­tioned. She de­cided that her com­mu­ni­ca­tion style was hin­der­ing her and needed to be changed. “I was given feed­back a few t i mes t hat I was too opin­ion­ated,” she says.

Safia started by read­ing books about how to per­suade peo­ple ef­fec­tively and joined Toastmasters, a non-profit ed­u­ca­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion. Through t hat pro­gramme, she learned how to con­nect with stake­hold­ers and present ideas in a more ap­peal­ing way.

Also, co­in­ci­den­tally dur­ing the same time, the pres­i­dent of Safia’s com­pany started in­ter­view­ing key em­ploy­ees to bet­ter un­der­stand what they liked or did not like about their jobs.

This pro­vided Safia with a per­fect op­por­tu­nity. She ex­plained her de­sire to see her ideas have more im­pact and the boss ad­vised her to fo­cus less on why some­thing needed to be changed and more on how it could hap­pen, in­clud­ing what she could do to make sure it did.

Safia re­alised she had been as­sum­ing that her col­leagues un­der­stood what the prob­lems were and how to f ix them. She had been high­light­ing what needed to be done and leav­ing it at that. With her new un­der­stand­ing in hand, she was able to try a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. She mapped out a process and pointed to the root causes.

This helped her au­di­ence un­der­stand where they could make changes and how ex­actly she could help.

Safia has no­ticed a big dif­fer­ence in how col­leagues re­spond to her sug­ges­tions:

They are now more open to hear­ing them and will­ing to work with her to im­ple­ment them.

Amy Gallo is a con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor at Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view.

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