Building up influence
TO establish influence within a team, workers must first gain respect – a goal that can be realised both in the office and while working from home.
Experts suggest aspiring influencers focus on becoming an expert in their field, building relationships and networks, curating a professional personal brand, and finding a mentor.
Adelaide Business Advice and Consulting founder Andrew Chenoweth said mentorship was key to establishing workplace respect and influence and urged people to not let this fall by the wayside while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(New employees should find) a mentor in the workplace, someone who can guide and show them the way and allow communication and the ability to work collaboratively,” he said.
Mr Chenoweth has continued to meet virtually with mentees from UniSA’s Business Career Mentor Program and Business SA throughout the pandemic but plans to revert to in-person catch-ups now that social distancing restrictions are easing.
He urged workers to keep building professional relationships while working remotely by dialling into virtual happy hours on Friday nights or by organising walking meetings.
“Go for a walk and discuss a project to get some fresh air and get away from the screen,” he said.
“Even though we have restrictions, there are still opportunities – it’s still possible to have face-to-face conversations.
“Keep some distance away but at least you can get out and have a power-walking session.”
As a mentor, he encourages his mentees to become influencers by writing articles and journals and publishing them on sites such as LinkedIn.
“(They should) use social media to promote what they intend to achieve within the workplace,” he said.
SEEK resident psychologist Sabina Read said there were two parts to gaining respect at work – having the technical skills and knowledge to do your job well, and having the self-belief that convinces others to believe in you, too.
“It’s your mindset but also what is in your tool kit,” she said. “When we carry ourselves in a certain way, people organically notice us.
“It’s not about jumping up and down like a toddler trying to get our parents’ attention.”
A SEEK poll of about 2800 Twitter users found just 46 per cent of workers felt respected by their manager and their colleagues. Others felt respected by only their manager (15 per cent) or only their colleagues (4 per cent) but 35 per cent did not get this vibe from either.
Ms Read said respect could then lead to influence as people typically followed those they liked.
“Listen, be curious and open and interested in other people’s views instead of arriving with all the answers,” she said.
“Once people feel listened to, it’s easier to influence them.”
Workplace expert and author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work Michelle Gibbings said it was important workers understood how they were seen by others.
“All the time, you are managing your brand and reputation,” she said.
“If you have a good brand, it’s far easier to have traction and get things done.”
Ms Gibbings also recommended workers dedicate time to their networks.
“People who have influence have relationships at all levels, know who the decision makers are, understand how those relationships work and build constructive relationships there,” she said.
“They have people they can go to for advice and guidance.”
MENTOR: Andrew Chenoweth with business students Jamil M. Ameen, Jaimee Green and Angela Rizovski.