Influencing Up

on November 30, 2011
Manager Development

I was invited to speak with a networking group of HR managers on the topic of improving employee engagement in their organizations.  I expected to have a conversation about best practices, so I prepared accordingly.  I quickly realized that this group already understood the best practices, but they weren’t effective in launching their initiatives.

These HR managers:

  • Had great idea for programs to engage front-line employees.
  • Needed to influence a leader to support them in executing their plans.
  • Presented their leaders with slick PowerPoints and spreadsheets.
  • Were met with responses such as
    • “Can’t you just send an email or mention this at an all company meeting”?
    • “This isn’t really something that I’m willing to allocate money or resources for.”

While they needed the support of leaders to launch their programs, I suggested that there’s a flip side.  Leaders can’t deploy initiatives without the help of everyone in the company, including them, and I encouraged them to appeal to that co-dependency.  By understanding what their leaders care about most, they could make an explicit connection between their programs and the potential impact on what their leaders care about.

I recommended that they skip the charts and slides and create an emotional connection by demonstrating their commitment to help that leader reach their goals.  What would you have suggested?

Thinking

Managing Change
Managing Change