Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my series of podcasts that will help you to navigate those inevitable difficult events at work that are part of being a manager.
Today I want to talk about how to influence people at work.
If you want to be an effective leader or manager, you need to be able to influence people. It’s not enough to say ‘I’m the boss’ or ‘I’m a team leader’ and expect people to do as you say. You need to take other steps to get your colleagues to support your ideas, and to be more respected, appreciated and acknowledged in the workplace.
It can be hard to increase your influence in the workplace because people are always so distracted by their own tasks and an overload of information. Yet the increasing pressure on businesses to be successful and profitable makes it more important that you have the influence to get things done.
So gaining influence at work does take time and effort, but how can you make the path a little smoother? Here are some strategies you can use to increase your influence at work:
Build trust: Healthy and collaborative working relationships are built on trust. Be open and honest, and don’t make colleagues feel like they are being kept out of the loop. As a manager, you probably do have the authority to make demands of your employees, but if you’re truly influential, your demands will be met because employees trust you and believe in you, not just because you’re a manager barking out orders.
Be consistent: Demonstrate consistency in your leadership. Set consistent expectations for employees and reward hard work. Complete your own tasks on time and to a high standard and people will believe you’re consistent and reliable. If you’re consistent, it’s a great way to gain influence because you’ll be considered trustworthy, and you’ll have no trouble getting people on side.
Don’t mistake assertiveness for aggression: Some degree of assertiveness is essential for getting yourself heard, but don’t cross the line into aggression and arrogance as this could seriously harm your ability to influence others. If however, you are assertive, and you completely believe in the ideas you’re putting across to people, you’ll be more likely to be seen as an authority who knows their stuff.
Be willing to compromise and negotiate: Being too rigid in your beliefs can work against you. If you are seen as being willing to compromise or negotiate, people will be more likely to listen to what you have to sat rather than becoming defensive.
Build connections with people: If your authority is built on isolating yourself from your employees, it might make it harder for people to trust you. Spend time communicating with your employees; you don’t need to become best friends, but if people feel you’re all working as a team, and you advocate that, they’ll be much more receptive to you when you discuss ideas with them.
Walk the walk: You can’t build influence talking about what you want to do if you don’t actually follow through. If you consistently work hard and demonstrate that you can get results, you’re far more likely to be influential.
Don’t just talk, listen: The more you listen to people’s ideas and demonstrate that you believe in them, the more people will value your ideas and opinions; it’s a 2-way street. This shows that you respect people and it builds mutual trust. If people feel they are being heard, they are much more likely to view you as a true leader. If people think they aren’t being heard, there’s no faster way to spread resentment.
Position yourself as an expert: Attending conferences and constantly updating your skills will help you be seen as an expert in your organisation, which will make people view you as a committed professional who has influence by virtue of excellent industry knowledge and a desire to be ahead of the game.
Remember that gaining influence in the workplace is not about getting people to do what you tell them, it’s about becoming more effective and respected.
I’d like to round off with some top tips about how to influence people:
- Build connections with people so when you try to influence them, they trust you aren’t doing so for selfish reasons.
- Show people that you value their ideas and opinions
- Attend conferences and keep your skills updated to position yourself as an expert
- Being truly influential is about being strategic, it’s not about manipulation.
- Use the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ to demonstrate that your ideas will benefit the organisation as a whole, not just you.
I hope that you got some good tips from today’s podcast, and I’ll see you next time for the next one in the series which looks at building your resilience.
This is The People Mentor, signing off.