Increase Your Influence at Work

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Overview

People who know how to influence others in the office enjoy a greater measure of control over their work lives and advance their careers more rapidly than others.

But what many don’t know is that the mysterious quality known as influence can be learned and developed by anyone.

This practical book, filled with easy-to-apply tips for influencing managers, peers, and subordinates, shows readers how to:

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Overview

People who know how to influence others in the office enjoy a greater measure of control over their work lives and advance their careers more rapidly than others.

But what many don’t know is that the mysterious quality known as influence can be learned and developed by anyone.

This practical book, filled with easy-to-apply tips for influencing managers, peers, and subordinates, shows readers how to:

Win support for their ideas and projects • Contribute more fully to important decisions • Resolve conflicts more easily • Frame important issues for maximum benefit • Lead and manage more effectively • And much more

Readers will discover how to develop the most important attributes necessary for influence—trustworthiness, reliability, and assertiveness—and find out how to move beyond being passive participants in their work lives, and gain the cooperation and atten tion of those who matter most.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814416013
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/2010
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD A. LUECKE (Salem, MA) is a business writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of The Manager’s Toolkit and the second edition of How to Become a Better Negotiator (978-0-8144-0047-0).

PERRY MCINTOSH (Salem, MA) has over 15 years of management experience at mid- and senior levels. Together, they are the authors of The Busy Manager’s Guide to Delegation (978-0-8144-1474-3).

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

INFLUENCE, POWER, AND PERSUASION

‘‘Our new general manager has had a positive influence on our

business culture.’’

‘‘It’s clear that Helen was much influenced by her mentor.’’

‘‘Our state senator was nabbed for influence peddling in an FBI

sting operation.’’

‘‘Although Steve is the leader of a cross-functional team, he

seems to have very little influence over his team members.’’

The term influence is used often, and in all facets of life. But

what does it really mean, especially in a workplace context?

And how does it differ from related concepts, such as power

and persuasion? This chapter answers these questions and sets the

stage for a greater understanding of influence and how you can

develop and apply it at work.

Power, influence, and persuasion have one thing in common:

Each is something we use to get what we want from others—a tangible

item, a particular behavior (or change in behavior), or accep-

tance of our ideas or modes of thinking. Let’s consider each of

these concepts in turn.

POWER

Power is the ability to get what we want by virtue of command or

compulsion. In the workplace, people who occupy certain positions—

as executives, managers, and supervisors—are invested with

some level of power. They are authorized by the organization

within certain limits to give orders, allocate or withhold resources,

and make decisions. Thus, your boss has the power (again, within

certain limits) to make decisions on who will be hired and promoted

and how work will be done. For example, it’s likely that your

boss has the power to determine when you and other subordinates

will take vacation days. When the CEO tells the head of manufacturing,

‘‘I want costs reduced by 10 percent over the next six months—

show me how you are going to do it,’’ she’s not asking the department

head to do something. She’s not trying to influence or persuade

him. Instead, she’s using her power of position to command

or compel a particular behavior.

Most people in Western societies have a visceral distrust of

power and power differences between people; they favor equality

between people. They are uncomfortable with the idea that some

individuals can command or compel others. To them, power harkens

to historical conditions in which one party arbitrarily exercised

his or her will over others. This discomfort with power spills over

into the modern workplace, where people can be less responsive

to direct orders than to a manager’s appeals for their cooperation.

Thus, new managers quickly discover that their positional power

doesn’t get them very far; bossing people around is very unproduc-

tive. These managers may have the power to command certain

actions, and their subordinates may be obliged to obey, but compulsion

seldom enlists a person’s best efforts. If anything, it may

produce resistance. If the work must be done quickly and well,

managers find that appeals for collaboration are generally more

productive than compulsion.

This is not so say that power has no place in organizations.

Power is, in fact, essential in organizational life. Let’s look at some

situations when the use of positional power is necessary to get

things done:

When a Crisis Occurs. Crises almost always demand a

rapid and unequivocal response. People look to a leader who commands

them to get out when the building is on fire. There is no

time for discussion, convincing, and consensus building. What is

needed to handle a crisis is a command response, not participative

management or employee empowerment. Employees recognize

this and generally accept the commands of leaders during periods

of crisis.

When Consensus Cannot Be Reached. Key decisions can

sometimes be made by consensus, but when people fail to reach

consensus a manager must use positional power to break the deadlock

and make a decision that allows the group to move forward.

When Subordinates Lack Essential Skills or Experience.

Exercising power may make sense in some situations, but not in

others. For example, a manager who tries to boss around technical

professionals or other highly skilled employees does so at his peril.

Skillful people who are dedicated to their work expect to work

with their bosses in getting things done; they do not respond well

to commands or compulsion. Successful managers of these em-

ployees can command the ‘‘what’’ but not the ‘‘how’’—they can

insist on certain results but leave it to skilled employees to determine

how the results are accomplished. However, the opposite

may be true of employees who are new to their jobs or who lack

important skills. In these cases, close direction and command may

be appropriate.

When Employees Lack Key Information. Whether for reasons

of legality, confidentiality, or organizational complexity, sometimes

only the manager can have access to the ‘‘big picture.’’

When the Buck Stops Here. Although it is wise to get

input from others on many difficult decisions, managers must take

ultimate responsibility for some decisions, such as the decision to

hire or terminate an employee.

INFLUENCE

Influence is a means of getting what we want without command or

compulsion. Unlike power, which can be exercised only by certain

people such as managers and executives by virtue of their positions,

influence can be exercised by anyone at any level of the organization.

For example, a savvy manager who enjoys the power of

position sees the wisdom of not exercising it. To return to the example

of the vacation schedule, a ‘‘decree from on high’’ that no

staff may take a vacation during July would likely engender resentment;

the department might experience a rash of unfortunate ‘‘illnesses’’

that month. The savvy manager recognizes that she’ll get

more of what she wants by applying influence. Explaining her concerns

and asking for cooperation to meet department needs will

probably be more effective. For her, influence is a ‘‘soft’’ form of

power.

In contrast to his manager, an engineer working in a research

and development lab may have no formal power; nevertheless, he

may have substantial influence over both his boss and his peers if

he possesses uncanny creativity and problem-solving abilities that

they recognize and appreciate. When he speaks, other people listen—

and they often willingly adopt his point of view. For him, too,

influence is a form of soft power.

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Table of Contents

Preface v

Chapter 1 Influence, Power, and Persuasion 1

Chapter 2 The Foundation of Influence 10

Chapter 3 Tactics 23

Chapter 4 Applying influence Down and Sideways 52

Chapter 5 Influencing Your Boss 73

Chapter 6 The Ethics of Influence 83

Glossary 95

Selected Reading 99

Index 101

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First Chapter

INCREASE YOUR INFLUENCE AT WORK


By Perry McIntosh Richard A. Luecke

AMACOM

Copyright © 2011 American Management Association
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1601-3


Chapter One

INFLUENCE, POWER, AND PERSUASION

* * *

"Our new general manager has had a positive influence on our business culture."

"It's clear that Helen was much influenced by her mentor."

"Our state senator was nabbed for influence peddling in an FBI sting operation."

"Although Steve is the leader of a cross-functional team, he seems to have very little influence over his team members."

The term influence is used often, and in all facets of life. But what does it really mean, especially in a workplace context? And how does it differ from related concepts, such as power and persuasion? This chapter answers these questions and sets the stage for a greater understanding of influence and how you can develop and apply it at work.

Power, influence, and persuasion have one thing in common: Each is something we use to get what we want from others—a tangible item, a particular behavior (or change in behavior), or acceptance of our ideas or modes of thinking. Let's consider each of these concepts in turn.

POWER

Power is the ability to get what we want by virtue of command or compulsion. In the workplace, people who occupy certain positions—as executives, managers, and supervisors—are invested with some level of power. They are authorized by the organization within certain limits to give orders, allocate or withhold resources, and make decisions. Thus, your boss has the power (again, within certain limits) to make decisions on who will be hired and promoted and how work will be done. For example, it's likely that your boss has the power to determine when you and other subordinates will take vacation days. When the CEO tells the head of manufacturing, "I want costs reduced by 10 percent over the next six months— show me how you are going to do it," she's not asking the department head to do something. She's not trying to influence or persuade him. Instead, she's using her power of position to command or compel a particular behavior.

Most people in Western societies have a visceral distrust of power and power differences between people; they favor equality between people. They are uncomfortable with the idea that some individuals can command or compel others. To them, power harkens to historical conditions in which one party arbitrarily exercised his or her will over others. This discomfort with power spills over into the modern workplace, where people can be less responsive to direct orders than to a manager's appeals for their cooperation. Thus, new managers quickly discover that their positional power doesn't get them very far; bossing people around is very unproductive. These managers may have the power to command certain actions, and their subordinates may be obliged to obey, but compulsion seldom enlists a person's best efforts. If anything, it may produce resistance. If the work must be done quickly and well, managers find that appeals for collaboration are generally more productive than compulsion.

This is not so say that power has no place in organizations. Power is, in fact, essential in organizational life. Let's look at some situations when the use of positional power is necessary to get things done:

* When a Crisis Occurs. Crises almost always demand a rapid and unequivocal response. People look to a leader who commands them to get out when the building is on fire. There is no time for discussion, convincing, and consensus building. What is needed to handle a crisis is a command response, not participative management or employee empowerment. Employees recognize this and generally accept the commands of leaders during periods of crisis.

* When Consensus Cannot Be Reached. Key decisions can sometimes be made by consensus, but when people fail to reach consensus a manager must use positional power to break the deadlock and make a decision that allows the group to move forward.

* When Subordinates Lack Essential Skills or Experience. Exercising power may make sense in some situations, but not in others. For example, a manager who tries to boss around technical professionals or other highly skilled employees does so at his peril. Skillful people who are dedicated to their work expect to work with their bosses in getting things done; they do not respond well to commands or compulsion. Successful managers of these employees can command the "what" but not the "how"—they can insist on certain results but leave it to skilled employees to determine how the results are accomplished. However, the opposite may be true of employees who are new to their jobs or who lack important skills. In these cases, close direction and command may be appropriate.

* When Employees Lack Key Information. Whether for reasons of legality, confidentiality, or organizational complexity, sometimes only the manager can have access to the "big picture."

* When the Buck Stops Here. Although it is wise to get input from others on many difficult decisions, managers must take ultimate responsibility for some decisions, such as the decision to hire or terminate an employee.

INFLUENCE

Influence is a means of getting what we want without command or compulsion. Unlike power, which can be exercised only by certain people such as managers and executives by virtue of their positions, influence can be exercised by anyone at any level of the organization. For example, a savvy manager who enjoys the power of position sees the wisdom of not exercising it. To return to the example of the vacation schedule, a "decree from on high" that no staff may take a vacation during July would likely engender resentment; the department might experience a rash of unfortunate "illnesses" that month. The savvy manager recognizes that she'll get more of what she wants by applying influence. Explaining her concerns and asking for cooperation to meet department needs will probably be more effective. For her, influence is a "soft" form of power.

In contrast to his manager, an engineer working in a research and development lab may have no formal power; nevertheless, he may have substantial influence over both his boss and his peers if he possesses uncanny creativity and problem-solving abilities that they recognize and appreciate. When he speaks, other people listen—and they often willingly adopt his point of view. For him, too, influence is a form of soft power.

PERSUASION

What about persuasion, a term often found in guides for success in the new "flat" workplace? Persuasion is another way of getting what we want without command or compulsion. Persuasion, however, is not influence per se, merely a tool. Persuasion involves the use of rhetorical devices such as logical argument and emotional appeals. Both those who have positional power and those who do not can utilize persuasion. Consider this example:

Fran, a midlevel financial analyst, is having lunch with other employees of his department. None has a reporting relationship with anyone else at the table. As their discussion turns from sports to work, Fran offers his view on the company's bank line of credit, which he sees as a problem.

"I've studied the sales forecast for next year," he tells them, "and our current $1 million credit line, when added to our projected working capital, won't be enough to finance the production and inventory we'll need to fill those forecasted sales. If we can't talk the bank into expanding our line of credit—say to $2 million—we may end up with thousands of unit orders that we cannot fill. If that happens, heads will roll." He then goes on to explain how he arrived at the $2 million figure and how they might get the bank to give it to them.

In this example, Fran is applying persuasive communication with the goal of influencing the thinking of his peers about an important business matter. And because he is interested in the success of the company, we'd expect that Fran would direct the same line of persuasion communication to his boss, the CFO:

"I've gone over the numbers several times," Fran tells the CFO in a meeting later that week, "and it seems clear that we'll need close to $2 million in additional cash in order to support this fall's anticipated sales orders. A larger bank line of credit would be the easiest and least costly way to provide that financing. I have all of my analysis on a spreadsheet. Would you like to see it?"

Persuasion is a form of communication that enlists logical or emotional appeals—or both—in order to get certain things or to affect the beliefs and behaviors of others. Though persuasion is popularly associated with advertisers and salespeople, almost everyone in an organization from top to bottom employs persuasion at one time or another. For example:

* A CEO tries to persuade the board of directors that a change in company strategy is necessary.

* The general manager of a manufacturing unit engages in persuasive communication with her functional managers and staff, hoping that they will adopt her enthusiasm for a new program of quality control.

* A staff person tries to persuade his boss to invest in new software that will make people in the office more productive.

* A department manager persuades a peer that her participation in a joint effort will benefit both departments.

In getting what we want from others, persuasion is a tool that we all reach for with great frequency. If you stop and think about it, you can probably identify daily instances in which you have been on either the giving or receiving end of persuasion, both at work and at home.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Do you see how the three related concepts introduced in this chapter—power, influence, and persuasion—fit together? If you don't, the graphic model depicted in Figure 1-1 will give you a clearer picture. Note that influence, like the power of position, is a form of power. It is aided by the tool of persuasion. Both forms of power aim for the same thing—to get what we want from others— although through different means.

CHAPTER REVIEW

To review what you have learned, take the following open-book review quiz.

1. Power was defined here as the ability to get what we want by virtue of command or compulsion. Describe one example of the effective exercise of power in your workplace by you or by someone else. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

2. Influence was defined as a means of getting what we want without command or compulsion. Describe one occasion in which you successfully exercised influence. What was the result? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

3. Describe one situation in your workplace in which the use of influence would be more appropriate and effective than the application of formal power—that is, ordering someone to do something. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

4. Persuasion is a tool of influence. Recollect and describe a recent instance in which someone at work tried to persuade you to do what he or she wished. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

Chapter Two

THE FOUNDATION OF INFLUENCE

* * *

Now that you understand the meaning of influence and the related concepts of power and persuasion, we can move on to practical steps you can take to enhance your influence at work. Conceptually, it's useful to think of influence in terms of a structure built on a solid foundation of personal attributes and supportive tactics, as shown in Figure 2-1. The attributes are trustworthiness, reliability, and assertiveness. These are personal attributes you can develop over time and are the subjects of this chapter. Think of them as the "ante" the would-be influencer must pay to join the game. In and of themselves these attributes will not give you substantial influence, but you cannot be highly influential without them. To win the game, you must employ one or more supporting tactics; you'll learn about those in Chapter 3.

TRUSTWORTHINESS

It's obvious that a person considered untrustworthy will have a hard time influencing the decisions, behavior, or thinking of others. This example makes it clear why:

Last year Jane lobbied heavily on behalf of a plan to create and staff a new sales territory in the Minnesota-Wisconsin area. "It should be profitable within two years," she insisted. People were interested because top management was pushing for profit growth, and her plan supported that important goal. The national sales manager became very excited and began talking up Jane's plan to his boss, the vice president of sales and marketing. "Opening a small office in Madison, Wisconsin, with three outside salespeople could contribute $2 million to corporate profitability if Jane is right," he told his boss.

Interest in the plan evaporated, however, once it became clear that Jane hadn't taken the trouble to develop realistic cost estimates for the expansion. They were simply off-the-top-of-her-head guesses. Worse, her anticipated sales revenues from the new territory were based on what everyone considered to be unrealistic assumptions. The national sales manager was embarrassed by his initial enthusiasm, which had reduced his credibility with his own boss. Consequently, the next time Jane tried to promote a new idea, she was ignored.

Jane is a fictitious character, but her behavior is drawn from that of people we've all met in the workplace at one time or another. These are not bad people; they often have the best of intentions. Unfortunately, their suggestions cannot be accepted at face value because they don't go to the trouble of checking their facts and building a solid, supportable case. They fail the test of trustworthiness, with the result that they have little influence on others.

Consider what would happen if Jane had approached her case for an expansion into the Minnesota-Wisconsin area in a very different, more credible way—not off the top of her head, but based on solid facts, analysis, and realistic assumptions. The risks in the plan would have been identified, and where critical information was lacking she would have said something like this: "At this point I cannot offer a revenue estimate for the proposed new territory. We do not know the total demand for our products in that region, or how much of it our competitors are now getting. That information must be obtained through market research before we invest in the idea. I've begun talking with our market research staff about how we can get those data."

Who would you find more worthy of trust, the new Jane or the old Jane? Who would have greater influence over you? The next time Jane makes a suggestion, would you be inclined to believe that she had done her homework?

In a business context, trust is something that's earned over time by:

* Telling the truth, no matter now painful

* Delivering both the good news and the bad

* Taking responsibility for our mistakes

* Identifying the upside and downside potential of our suggestions

* Recognizing the value of ideas that compete with our own

* Giving careful thought and analysis to our proposals

* Providing decision makers with the information they need to make wise choices

* Putting organizational goals above our own

* Respecting confidentiality

* Having the courage to say, "I don't know" when appropriate

The cumulative effects of these behaviors over time invest a person with the trustworthiness that makes influence possible.

Which of your workplace colleagues are trustworthy? Which are not? How do the people you work with rate your trustworthiness?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from INCREASE YOUR INFLUENCE AT WORK by Perry McIntosh Richard A. Luecke Copyright © 2011 by American Management Association. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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