What process do you adopt when you prepare to influence others? Have you even thought about it as a process? While writing my latest book, I pulled the threads together and produced this five-step process that has a high level of common sense while also touching on many of the key topics specific to influence.
Step #1: Clarity
Become precise about what you want them to do, say or think. What action do you want them to take? You may not communicate it directly, but you need to be clear in your own mind what outcome you are seeking to achieve. Too often people go into influencing situations with only a vague idea of what they want to achieve.
Step #2: Reflection
I make no apology for the amount of reflection that is required to fully complete this step. Adjust appropriately to the situation, the person and the importance of your influence attempt.
- Agenda. How do their multiple agendas (professional and personal) connect or disconnect with your agenda?
- Context. What pressures are they under?
- Power. What power do they have, respond to and have access to?
- Personality. What type of person are they, and how do they compare to you?
- Risks/Rewards. Be frank with yourself, how are they going to win or lose if they agree to what you want?
- Category. Where do they sit on your stakeholder map?
- Perceptions. What do they think of you? Do they see you as powerful, insightful, irrelevant or an idiot?
- Trust. How much do you trust them?
- Competition. What does your idea compete with?
- Responses. How do you think they may respond to your request?
Step #3: Decision
I’m going to keep this brief deliberately. Here are the key decision areas as you prepare to swing into action (after a suitable amount of reflection)…
- Direct or indirect?
- Face to face or remote?
- Alone or with a friend/colleague?
- Simple or planned?
- Influencing Style.
- Influencing Tactic.
- Pitch Structure.
A couple of these probably warrants a little further explanation.
A simple approach is likely to be a single meeting; however, it may be more appropriate to implement a sequence of coordinated actions to achieve your goal.
Influencing tactics are referring to the standard set from Dr. Cecilia Falbe (Inspirational Appeal, Rational Persuasion etc.) plus any others you may be familiar with.
Step #4: Action
Nothing does it quite like doing something; however, this step is really about making sure you do take the action you have decided to take. Consider how to…
- Boost Your Confidence.
- Minimise Risks.
- Prepare Contingencies.
- Find Moral Support.
- Empower Yourself.
- Do It!
Step #5: Review
The more often you review your influencing activities, the quicker you will become even more effective at getting things done. Here are the key questions…
- What worked? Why?
- What didn’t work? Why?
- What could you have done differently?
- What will you do next?
- What have you learnt?
Now, don’t just take my word for it — personalise it. What would you add to this process and these checklists? How can you institute this into your modus operandi? How can you implement this in a team context? Be sure I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts, just email me.
I’d also be interested to hear about your experiences of using this process to help other people become more influential — for instance, your direct reports.