Influencing skills 101: a commercial approach to HR

Influencing the success of people is essential to any organisations ability to survive let alone thrive

It’s common to hear managers say, “People are our most important asset.

And yet, despite the rhetoric many fail to leverage the potential human beings bring, to deliberately drive commercial outcomes. It’s an unfortunate reality that many leaders, and HR professionals alike, continue to see people as a cost and fail to either build or leverage the talent and energy needed to drive competitive results.

Influencing the success of people is essential to any organisations ability to survive let alone thrive. Contemplate for a moment the influence your team has on customer confidence, loyalty and decision-making, for example. How do the thoughts, emotions and actions of your people impact each customer’s experiences of your organisation? How does your staff influence the desire and willingness of other people to do business with your organisation?

Plan to win
Deliberately driving commercial outcomes through people begins with a clear view of your organisations vision and strategic objectives. Understanding not only where the business is heading but also how it intends to get there, is necessary in order to determine the people strategies that will matter most.

The fundamental question that needs to be asked for HR in building influencing skills is ‘what capabilities and behaviours are needed to turn the organisations vision into reality?’

While attracting, developing, managing, engaging and retaining people are typically important, understanding precisely what is needed is vital.  Understand what knowledge, skills and experience will be necessary at every step along the way toward achieving the organisations ultimate vision of its future? What behaviours will be essential to leveraging the individual and collective talents of people to drive optimal commercial outcomes?

Build potential
Creating and maintaining competitive advantage requires that leaders take deliberate steps to develop the capabilities needed now and into the future. The ultimate indicator of success is the ability to access the depth and breadth of talent when you need to. In other words having the capabilities needed to achieve both your immediate and longer-term objectives.

Beyond influencing success, providing people with the opportunity to learn and grow is crucial to keeping them with your business. Training and the chance to learn new things on the job are among the most commonly stated reasons people give for choosing to join, stay or leave an organisation. Demonstrate commitment to developing your people and supporting them to grow and advance with your business.

Help people to understand why learning and growing their capabilities matters to your organisations ability to succeed today, and into tomorrow.

Leverage potential
The extent to which people are passionate and engaged influences the role they choose to play and ultimately the standard of performance they achieve. Reflect for a moment on how often have you met someone who had the talent needed but failed to succeed because of the choices they made.

No matter the strengths of talent across your organisation, the standard of results achieved ultimately depends on the choices people make about how they think, feel and behave.

Influencing those choices matters to any leader’s ability to tap into the potential the talents of your team offer.

Critical strategies that went executed well allow a team’s potential to be leveraged include:

  1. Create a compelling vision. Show your team where you are heading and why you want to get there. Build a picture of purpose and optimism; help people to see why what you do matters and the role you need very member of the team to play. Provide clear insight to what your organisation needs to do to compete in your market. Ensure every member of your team understands how his or her role contributes each day and over time to achieving your vision.
  2. Strive for greatness. Be ambitious. Aiming for average outcomes is unlikely to inspire many people to bring passion to their job. While its important to be realistic about the goals you set, aim high and show your team why you believe in their ability to succeed. Set strategically aligned objectives that are achievable and yet require your team to stretch. Require that people ‘dig deep’ to achieve standards your most successful competitors are yet to reach.
  3. Build a healthy workplace culture. The simple truth is that when people feel valued and respected they are more likely to strive to succeed. When they trust the organisation they work for and the colleagues they spend time with, they are also more likely give things a go and offer their ideas about how things can be better. People who feel a sense of pride in the organisation they work for and team they are a part of, are entirely more likely to give their all and behave successfully.
  4. Empower. While providing clear direction and guidance is important so too is empowering people to apply their experience and do their jobs. Allow people to contribute to not only what they do but also how they go about it. People who are trusted to take full responsibility for their role are those most likely to achieve.

Empowering leadership teams
At the foundation of any organisations ability to build and leverage the potential of people to   drive commercial outcomes is great leadership. Build and empower a leadership team who:

  1. Earn trust and respect. Our ability to influence anyone depends on his or her willingness to let us. The depth of trust and respect they feel determines the extent to which we are able guide their thinking, influence their emotions and inspire their actions.
  2. Lead by example. Great teams are led by people who take ownership for their role and work hard to succeed. They demonstrate not only what is desirable but also possible. Through the example they set they inspire people to strive to be the best possible version of themselves.
  3. Drive results. Leaders focused on driving ambitious outcomes trough the talent and energy of people are those most likely to succeed. Set clear objectives, coach people to succeed and hold them accountable for the standard of their contribution.

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