The ability to influence our manager is a key skill that we need in order to help manage our workloads, have our ideas listened to and enhance our reputation with our managers.
Influencing itself isn’t just one skill, but more a culmination of many pieces of a puzzle that combine to produce the finished article – the skill to influence. Think of it almost like in Power Rangers, where the individual Zords combine to produce the Megazord – the ultimate Zord.
The very best leaders have the ability to influence peers of all levels, knowledge and beliefs. This is a skill that really helps drive our careers forward, having multiple benefits. Influencing our manager’s is what allows us to be creative, try new ideas and gain respect from those in senior positions. We can influence our peers too and create a community feel that will help motivate teams moving forward.
communication is key when influencing your manager
The most effective orators can lead without question. They can get their point across succinctly and effectively, whilst telling a story that helps their manager to visualise their message clearly. We need to ensure that our line managers can see what we see, and believe in the idea as much as we do.
But expect questions and have answers, it’s natural that your manager will have some queries that need answering, and the best way to influence your manager and their questions, is by anticipating them and providing answers where applicable and necessary. Don’t come unstuck by not having any answers ready.
Communication is also critical for managing expectations when influencing our managers. We need to set levels of expectations when delivering on projects or tasks; it’s no good saying yes to everything if the workload is too heavy and you can’t manage it. Be open and transparent about where you are with your work and what you can and can’t take on. This will help you build trusting relationships with your manager.
provide data where possible
If you’ve got the data to back up your point of view or idea, use it. It’s hard to argue with the facts, and whilst there are always instances where we should go with our gut instinct, for the majority of the time if the facts back up the opinion, it’s hard to question it.
Providing data and analysis on said data is also a great way to showcase your talents to your manager. It may be that they didn’t know that you had the ability to interpret data and make conscious decisions… now they do, and that’s perfect for you and your career progression!
It might also be a case that the data can contextualise the goals you’re trying to achieve. This will really help you when understanding your manager and their goals. Does the data reflect opportunities to help achieve the manager’s aim’s, or does it hinder? Questions like these can be answered and will help you when influencing your manager.
lead in other areas
The ability to influence others is a big component of leadership. So when there is ample opportunity look to gain your manager’s interest by showing them that you can lead in (many) other areas within the business. This can be anything from leading other teams or individuals to managing social events or office recycling initiatives.
There are endless ways to grab your manager’s attention and show them your leadership qualities; the best way will always be to influence others. By doing so, you’re indirectly influencing your manager into seeing your talents of delegation, management and leadership – another bonus for you!
be humble in success and motivated by failure
Rule one of being successful; never be smug! It’s off-putting and you won’t be influencing your manager again anytime soon. It’s probably as bad as being wrong and not admitting that you are. Stay humble; appreciate the kind words, but confidently. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
If you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world, but you need to show hunger to find the answer. Success comes from failures every day so don’t be too hard on yourself, or start feeling sorry for yourself. Show your manager that you’re eager to find the right answer and that you’re now a step closer to finding it. This drive, determination and maturity are what management love to see; they know that they can trust you to find the right way to achieving both yours and the business goals and that in itself is a success.
show confidence but not arrogance
You have to be confident in your ideas and your talents, otherwise, it’s easy to crumble when questioned which will result in you receiving the answer ‘no’, or just not presenting yourself correctly to your manager.
Confidence in our ideas is the difference between whether or not we can get them to the table. When we exude confidence, it naturally rubs off on those around us. Your manager and peers are likely to feel confident in you and your capabilities when you show confidence. This creates a reliability factor that relates back to our idea of creating trusting relationships to help build our influence within the workplace.
Remember, being overly confident has a backwards effect. Try to avoid arrogance, or being cocky, as the likelihood here is that you will, in fact, be influencing your manager, just not in the way you’d hoped for.
listen, listen and listen
There is something quite enamouring about someone who listens, isn’t there? Countless times, I have seen those who are more attentive listeners rise to the top of their careers. They absorb information, they take in what their peers or managers are saying, and they remember!
This is a fine skill to have; if you can remember what your manager said, you know where you stand, what needs to be done and can define how to do it. The same goes for others around you; people love to talk and be heard, and so by listening and being empathetic, you subconsciously gain their trust and confidence in you. Again, this helps create that community network of followers that will help you grow within your manager’s mind.
Listening to your manager shows your maturity and mindfulness to business goals and their situation. They’ll appreciate this, and for the right managers, this won’t go unnoticed. Furthermore, this lets them know that they can rely on you to listen and understand what needs to be done when times get tough.