Every experienced manager knows that position does not always equal influence. It’s possible to have an elite position within a company but have little influence over how the business is run. Perhaps you were promoted to a management position by one executive, and then that person was succeeded by someone who is antagonistic towards you. Or perhaps you rose to a position of authority but then alienated key colleagues.
Now, it’s nice to have a window office and a healthy salary, but don’t you also want to have real influence over the decisions within your sphere?
Here are five ways to gain – or regain – influence within your organization.
1. Manage impressions. If you lack legitimacy within the organization, it may be necessary to improve others’ impressions of you. To do this, you’ll have to come out of your shell. Self-promotion is a key weapon, though it can’t be overt. Instead, find subtle ways of publicizing your achievements within the company. If someone else has been given credit for your contribution, try to find an opportunity – perhaps by writing an account of a campaign or project for an internal newsletter – to fix that misapprehension. You owe it to yourself to ensure that others form a correct impression of your value to the organization.
2. Launch a charm offensive. Again, you’ll have to shed any natural shyness for the purpose of implementing this recommendation. Find sincere ways to compliment colleagues on their work. Let others know that you noticed their dedication or ingenuity in some particular instance. We all crave recognition, so your positive feedback will not go unnoticed. Remember, people tend to think well of those who praise them.
3. Become a key resource. Make yourself indispensable and/or impress others by taking on a project that nobody else wants, stepping in to lend a colleague a hand, or adding a skill that is necessary to the organization. If you notice a fellow manager struggling to meet a deadline, offer to help. If the company needs an executive to travel to a remote site and announce an unpopular decision (such as layoffs), volunteer to be that person. When others begin to see you as someone who can be relied upon in difficult circumstances, their respect for you will grow.
4. Identify a key player and tie yourself to that person. Determine who within your organization is likely to play an important role in the company’s future. This could be someone at your level, someone a rung above, or even someone below you. Perhaps the person is tremendously talented and is liked by everyone, or maybe the individual possesses expertise in an area that is becomingly increasingly important for the company. Find a way to become more closely involved with a campaign or project run by the person, and go out of your way to praise and assist the individual whenever possible. As the person emerges as a key player (assuming you were correct in your prediction), you will benefit through being associated with the individual.
5. Stretch your job description. If your current role – however elite – is not offering the sort of challenges that will allow you to gain prestige within the organization, stretch it. Delegate some of your core responsibilities to subordinates. This will give you time to tackle new and more exciting projects. Volunteer to investigate opportunities that could benefit the company, such as increasing its engagement with stakeholders or launching new social media avenues. If you pursue such initiatives successfully – while ensuring that your core areas of responsibility are appropriately managed – colleagues will form a new impression of you.
Gaining influence within a company can be a significant challenge, and some or all of these techniques may be initially unsuccessful. However, persistence in following the recommendations should ultimately yield positive results. Check out this article to keeps employees happy.