Want to be a true HR leader within your business? Learn to influence others. When you think about it, there are few decisions that HR makes with ultimate authority. A significant portion of what we accomplish comes through the influence, coaching, and guidance of our peers, executives, and staff.

I’d even go so far as saying that the majority of what we are proud of as HR leaders comes from what we accomplish without making the final decision ourselves. I can think of dozens of instances throughout my career where I was able to encourage and shape decisions that were good for the company and employees–but they otherwise wouldn’t have occurred without some outside influence. This can include anything from coaching an employee on how to communicate with his boss to helping the CEO understand the need to support a culture initiative.

One of the books I’ve long appreciated is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The concepts in the book can help anyone in any role, but I’ve always felt they are particularly appealing to HR because of our need to drive performance and action through those around us. Check out this list of tactics, characteristics, and methods for winning friends and influencing people: While some of them are simple (smile, make the other person feel important, etc.), they also have the power to change your approach and your results.

The book was published in 1936. Do you think these tenets still hold true today? 

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six ways to make people like you

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Win people to your way of thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Which of these pieces of advice has been most valuable for you during your career journey? Do you have anything to add? 

how to influence othersAKA: All Knowing but not All Powerful

There’s much to be said about influencing people at work. It’s part art, part science, and part random chance.

HR is like that. Our role is more subtle. We offer support to managers but never take over their roles (even if they ask you to). They are paid to manage people. Let them earn it. :-)

With great power comes great (responsibility) headaches

It can be frustrating to see the big picture and have no power to directly influence the outcome.

  • Bad employee? You can’t fire them yourself.
  • Poor manager? Good luck putting them on a corrective action plan.

But that doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck. A little influence can go a long way. And coupled with training, reinforcement, and good communication, you can overcome many of the problems that would otherwise be untouchable.

I talked with someone new to the profession recently and she was going through a tough time trying to define her role. She wanted to be in the thick of things, working closely with the managers she supported. While I understand and support the “in the trenches” viewpoint, I had to help remind her that she wasn’t the one responsible for doing the heavy lifting (performance feedback, discipline, terminations, etc.). That honor goes to the managers and leaders within the organization.

I’m not saying we don’t take a stand and fight for what needs to be done. I’m just saying that we might not always do that in a direct, observable manner. For those of you just getting started, don’t let that escape you. I was frustrated for a while until I realized that there were alternative routes to get to the results I was seeking.

One book I read and continue to reread is How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you haven’t read it, then you should grab a copy and take notes. It’s good stuff.

Do you have a way you like to secretly influence others at work? Any particular situations you wish you could change but don’t see a way how?

review how to win friends and influence peopleHow to Win Friends and Influence People Review-I received the book as a contest prize (video review below), and it’s been one of the most valuable prizes I’ve ever won. All of us have strained relationships, ideas we want to move forward, and connections we want to make. I’ve picked up a piece of advice on each of those topics that has helped me in my professional and personal lives.

These ideas are, for the most part, common sense. We already know some of them. But I think the difference for me is knowing that some of the most successful people in the world have used these ideas to achieve what they have. If you are looking for ideas on how to win friends and influence people, get the book today! Continue reading