How to in­flu­ence your work­place pos­i­tively

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Kathleen Win­sor-Games — Kathleen Win­sor-Games is the prin­ci­pal of The Win­sor Group, a Den­ver-based firm of­fer­ing lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, team build­ing and ca­reer coach­ing. See her blog at TheWin­

Do you know how to ask for (and get) what you need in the work­place? Whether you’re a C-suite ex­ec­u­tive, the leader of a dis­persed team or a solo con­trib­u­tor seek­ing your first man­age­ment role, in­flu­enc­ing skills mat­ter.

Have you ever been baf­fled by the com­mu­ni­ca­tion style of a boss, staff mem­ber or cus­tomer? How well do you un­der­stand the mo­ti­va­tions, pace, com­mu­ni­ca­tion style and de­ci­sion-mak­ing process of oth­ers? It is im­per­a­tive to con­sider these fac­tors in or­der to en­list the co­op­er­a­tion of oth­ers. It is not enough to de­fine a vi­sion of your goal or make a good busi­ness case. Be­fore rush­ing in, think about your au­di­ence.

Be­gin with build­ing trust. This is some­thing the best in­flu­encers do early and of­ten. Next, look to un­der­stand the goals, mo­ti­va­tions and de­ci­sion-mak­ing style of each per­son. Find out what’s in it for them.

Let’s take the case of Bill, the new guy who had re­cently been pro­moted to man­ager of Op­er­a­tions. In a rush to im­press at his first man­age­ment meet­ing, Bill pre­sented an im­por­tant pro­posal to the man­age­ment team. He hoped to up­grade and re­place the out­dated soft­ware the com­pany de­vel­oped years ago. The new soft­ware would in­te­grate finance, hu­man re­sources, op­er­a­tions and IT in ways that meant sig­nif­i­cant ef­fi­cien­cies. The com­pany could take on big cus­tomers and add new rev­enue without new hires.

Bill was stunned when he learned that Mary, the CFO, had helped de­velop the com­pany’s soft­ware in tan­dem with Ger­ald, the man­ager of IT, years be­fore Bill joined the com­pany. Be­cause Bill didn’t do his com­pany re­search first, he stepped on a few toes.

Bill could have gained trust and an un­der­stand­ing of his peers’ ac­com­plish­ments and mo­ti­va­tions in one-on-one meet­ings be­fore pre­sent­ing his idea.

Even though Bill was em­bar­rassed about his rookie mis­take, he went back to the draw­ing board. He apol­o­gized publicly for his mis­take and went to work to set up one-on-one meet­ings with his peers.

This time, he looked to build trust and rap­port, ob­serv­ing the dif­fer­ences in how each of his peers pre­ferred to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion.

Bill learned that Mary made de­ci­sions about which peo­ple to trust based on their cred­i­bil­ity and at­ten­tion to facts. Af­ter the for­mal­i­ties, he was sur­prised to see that she warmed up and talked en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about po­ten­tial cost-sav­ing ini­tia­tives.

Ger­ald wanted his role in sup­port­ing the strate­gic direc­tion of the com­pany to be ac­knowl­edged. Once Bill was able to un­der­stand and credit some of the im­por­tant growth points IT had en­abled for the com­pany, Ger­ald em­braced the pro­posed up­grade.

At first, Bill thought mainly about what was in it for him, namely im­press­ing his peers and get­ting a big win in his new role. He nearly killed the deal.

In­stead, he slowed down and ob­served what was im­por­tant to his peers. What goals were im­por­tant? What points of pride did they take in their con­tri­bu­tion to the com­pany? How did they process new in­for­ma­tion? What was in it for them?

Bill learned what great lead­ers al­ready know: build­ing trust, ac­tive lis­ten­ing and re­spect­ing other com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles could cre­ate big wins for him­self and his com­pany.

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