Increasing Your Influence at Work All-in-One For Dummies
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In today’s workplace, influence is more important than ever. When you know how to exert influence at work, you can control and more rapidly advance your career than others can. Four basic steps can help you achieve influence, no matter where you are in your career; if you’re higher up in your company, consider leadership best practices to further boost your impact.

The Basic Steps of Exerting Influence at Work

Communicating to engage, inform, and influence at work is easier when a rapport is evident between the communicator and the receiver. Rapport is when you have trust and harmony in a relationship. Influencing is a four-step process:

  1. Rapport: Four ways to gain rapport at a behavioral level are
    • Matching language patterns
    • Matching body movements and gestures
    • Matching voice tonality, volume, and tempo
    • With dress and attire

      The purpose of creating rapport is to create a relationship so the receiver feels trust (even at an unconscious level) and understood so he gives permission to be influenced.

  2. Understanding: When rapport has been established, trust and harmony are present, so the receiver feels understood.
  3. Permission: Because the receiver feels understood, he (unconsciously) gives permission to be led. He is willing to engage in the communication.
  4. Influence: The receiver is now more willing to be influenced by the communication.

Increasing Influence with Leadership Best Practices

There are countless leadership best practices and traps to avoid. As you work to increase your influence and improve your leadership skills, consider the following best practices; they can make an immediate difference, are free to implement, and can be used by leaders at all levels with little training or skill:

  • Know what your employees like — and hate — both inside and outside of work. A top engagement driver is showing your employees you care about them as people. It takes all of two seconds to ask an employee how his weekend was, or how his daughter’s dance recital went, or if his wife recovered from the flu. Obtaining and weaving this knowledge into your daily chit-chat with employees goes a long way toward engaging them.
  • Make employees feel as though you really care about their careers. Part of your job is to give your employees experiences at your firm that they couldn’t have elsewhere — experiences that will make them more valuable. Sure, you hope your employees stay with your firm for a long time, but if the day comes when they need to move on to another company, that’s okay.

That concept may feel scary. After all, you’re basically saying that your employees should feel free to take what they’ve learned with your organization and move on — maybe even to a competitor. But working to grow your talent, and communicating your efforts, is a great way to foster engagement. The more concern you show for your employees’ growth and development in their careers, the greater the probability you’ll have engaged employees.

  • Stop telling employees what to do; instead, have them help come up with solutions. Often, when managers spot a performance issue, they simply tell the employee what she needs to do to improve. There’s no interaction, no dialogue, nothing. A better approach is to make an observation and then be quiet and let the employee talk. Whatever the solution turns out to be, you’ll almost certainly get better buy-in with this approach.

Also, avoid describing how to do a project or task. Give your employee the destination but leave the driving directions to her. Employees often have their own ideas about process, and those ideas are often quicker, more innovative, and more efficient than the “tried and true.”

  • When it comes to engaging employees, recognition is one of the most effective weapons in a leader’s arsenal. Experienced managers have learned what neuroscientists and child psychologists have known for decades: Positive reinforcement and recognition lead to the replication of positive results.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Dr. Christina Tangora Schlachter, PhD, is the founder and Chief Leader of She Leads and creator of the Leading Change Guide, which helps leaders reinvent themselves and their companies with a 12-week turnaround process.

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