Posts Tagged ‘Influence’

The power of questions

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

As someone who has worked in a variety of verticals and business functions, I attribute some of my success to common sense. However, the adage that common sense is not that common is very true. Often, people look for complex solutions to problems to showcase their value-ad to the organization. How do you tell them gently and politely that there are other better ways to solve the issue?

You can be direct and to the point. If your coworkers share similar style and are open minded, this works well. However, lets come to the real world. Yes, the real world, where you have coworkers who have their ego and emotions attached to their ideas. The real world where they can just bulldoze you to make their point or brand you in the wrong way. This often leads to friction and frustration.

Even if you get your solution implemented, you may win the battle but lose the war. When you work in a team with peers, it is imperative to have a conducive environment. Also, you ‘want’ to team to work with you instead of ‘have’ to work with you. By asking the right questions, you spark the team to develop better solutions. You can influence the team and guide them in the right direction.

One tactic that works really well for me is to ask clarifying questions instead of just offering solutions. Show them that you understand their solution, you are curious about how it will play out in different scenarios, and how their solution will help in such situations. As they try to answer these questions, they will uncover the folly of their idea and become more open to brainstorming a better solution. This makes people more comfortable around you instead of being threatened by you.

As a bonus, here is a video I came across about asking questions:


How to Influence

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Despite a flawless logic and choosing the best decision, it is often difficult to convince your team to see things your way. This causes delay in execution, politics, frustration, and loss of real value to business. How do you go about dealing with these situations? How do you influence people?

  1. For starters, define the problem and impact as clearly as you can.
  2. Identify your key stakeholders who should have a say in the decision. This could include people who will be impacted, people who have to execute, etc. You can start by drawing the end to end process and identify key players.
  3. Next have a governance model for decision making. Agree on a methodology. Otherwise, discussions could go in any random direction and impede decision making.
  4. Translate how the issue impacts different each stakeholder. They may not speak the same lingo.
  5. Seek their ideas. Even if you think your idea is the best solution, be open minded. This may help you identify more hybrid solution that will be supported by the stakeholders. Sometimes its better to go with a 2nd ranking solution that will be accepted by most and address the issue instead of stalling any progress.
  6. Give your ideas as inputs to others. Some people pick up the clue and call it their own idea. They will be more supportive of the suggestion when they think the idea is theirs. As annoying as it may be to let someone take credit for your thoughts, doing the right thing for the business matters. Sometimes, in a big group, there is more focus on politics than it is healthy for the company. Finding your way around this is key to success.
  7. When the final idea is selected, keep people informed about the execution process and status. A lot of frustration is gone when people feel heard & considered.

Are there other tips, techniques that work for you? What are they?

Note: You may also be interested in the article on What & How you do