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5 Powerful Ways To Influence Someone

Whether you are an executive or individual contributor, being a good influencer is key to success.

But sometimes your "go to" influence strategies are not enough.  Now what?  

Here's five strategies you might not have thought of.     


Link To Their Concerns & Commitments

For big deal strategic influence situations find out these things:

  • What their performance is measured on.
  • What their performance metrics are - revenue, cost, cycle time?
  • What they are worried about
  • What is not going well for them
  • What risks are they dealing with
  • What goals they have to accomplish

Then communicate how what you want them to do will help them achieve their goals and reduce their worries/risks.

Communicate What’s In It For The Company & Them

For everyday simple influence situations:

Everyone’s favorite FM Radio Station is – WIIFM    What Is In It For Me?

So, before you tell the person what you want from them, think about why they would care to support you. 

Then briefly explain the goal of the project and the value of the project to the company, management, customers, partners.

Then share with them what would be helpful to them and ask if they agree or see some other benefit that will make their job or group more efficient, make a bigger impact. 

Diagnose With The Performance Equation

If you are bamboozled on why the person is not buying in, diagnose what is driving their behavior using the Performance Equation.

Performance = Motivation Level X Skills Level x Support Level

Because the equation is multiplicative, if any one of those factors is low, it greatly reduces how much they want or can help you.

Maybe they are just down about their job (motivation issue)

Maybe scared they cannot do well what you want (skill issue)

Maybe they are worried their workload is already too much (support issue)

When you talk with the person try to subtly determine which factor is low and then do some problem solving with the person to identify actions that will increase the low level factor.

Get Someone Else To Influence The Person

Sometimes you have tried everything to influence the person.  It is time to bring in an advocate the person respects or is a superior.  That can be the boss, a respected colleague, an opinion leader, a higher level manager or even an executive.

Brief the person on the business value of the project and what resistance you are dealing with.  Ask the person to meet with the resistant person to persuade them to get on board.  Do a debrief after they meet to see what the person did to influence the other person and use that as leverage going forward.

Use The Conflict Resolution Process

When people resist doing what you want it can sometimes head towards a conflict situation. To avoid the conflict or to deal with a conflict situation follow the steps in the DESCC Process.  Be sure to pause after each step to let the person respond.

D = Describe what is happening in behavioral terms (what exactly they are doing)

E = Explain the negative impact on business results, the company, department,
       the project, customers or partners

S = State specifically what you want them to do (e.g. provide resources) or not do
      (e.g., don’t sabotage)

C = Communicate the positive consequences for them and the project if they do
       what you ask


Neil's Bio

As a Leader & Organization Success Advisor, Neil has helped over 350 executives and managers at 90 companies improve their group's performance, leadership impact and career advancement.  Starting as a design engineer and customer engineer,  his career evolved to VP Leadership Development positions at GE and USF&G and Director Business Transformation positions at VMware, Amazon Lab126, and Cisco Systems. Neil has MBA and BS Electrical Engineering degrees and is a Certified Leadership Advisor.

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Leader Advisor and Career Advisor serving San Jose California, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Northern California and the surrounding areas.