EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT APPROACHES
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.