Influencing people at work

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?

4 thoughts on “Influencing people at work

  1. Chris Ferdinandi

    Hi Ben – Good food for thought! I’d be interested in hearing any specific tips you have.

    I don’t think this is just a key HR competency. I think it’s a key competency for everyone. Even for managers with direct-line authority, being able to influence people rather than order them to do something is a powerful skill to have.

    Any tips?

  2. jim

    How to Win Friends and Influence People is certainly the best advice to give on a book everyone should read.The knowledge that is gained will help you deal with controversy and help steer arguments and calm personalities.

  3. Pingback: Pick a card, any card (Influence Part 2) | upstartHR

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