Having influence in the workplace means having the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of your workplace and the people in it. It doesn’t have to involve being dominating or authoritative, but instead can mean having a voice and having the power to make your contributions truly felt. Here we detail tips for developing your influence within the workplace.
The first thing to note is that building influence has to be a long term. You will need to lay the initial groundwork and slowly build up influence over time. It’s a long-game play. The next thing to note is the importance of having a clear vision of your intended goal. Identify from the get go what kind of influence you ultimately want to achieve. Of course this goal will change over time as your role, workplace and personal circumstances change, so make the goal appropriately flexible.
To have influence in your workplace you will need to be professionally and personally credible. Consider why somebody should listen to you: what are the qualities of the people who you find credible and who influence you?
- Be trustworthy: keep important or sensitive information to yourself. Back up your words with action. Follow through on what you offer to do.
- Be consistent and reliable: be punctual with time-frames and deadlines. Don’t promise things you cannot actually provide.
- Be authentic: speak organically, and be upfront and honest (as much as is appropriate for the workplace). Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.
- Don’t be afraid of apologising: genuinely acknowledging and apologising for wrongdoing will demonstrate sincerity to your colleagues.
Influence can be developed through your communication with others – oral, written and non-verbal.
- Be assertive: confidence and decisiveness will communicate conviction and competence. But remember that assertive behaviour does not have to be lacking in self-awareness or reflection, nor does it have to be abrasive.
- Listen actively: pay attention, show you are listening, and provide feedback and confirmation to the other person (or people) as they speak.
- Cater to the audience: use the point of view of the person you’re trying to influence in your argument and think about what they want.
- Do not overuse reason: avoid relying heavily on statistics and logic formulas to get your point across. Instead appeal to your listener’s emotions, or use a story to illustrate a point.
- Make it a conversation: don’t lecture those you interact with. Ask for their opinion after you’ve made a point and take on board their input as you continue.
Build strong partnerships: build professional partnerships across teams and departments. These can be developed through friendships, offering a helping hand when needed, and networking. Don’t be afraid to lead upwards and establish relationships with people positioned higher than yourself.
Leverage your allies: cultivate alliances with key players across the company and maintain regular contact with them. When you need them on your side, articulate to them why you need their support and how your request will benefit the workplace as a whole.
Cause others to rely upon you: position yourself as an expert in a particular issue, or with a particular skill – fill a specific gap that is needed in your workplace and make yourself the go-to person when needed.