Use Your Influencing Skills
If you want to get buy-in for a large project, you must influence others to support you. Regardless of your role in the organization – leader or not – influencing skills enables you to get buy-in for projects you need to launch. This 3-part mini case study will focus on the value of influencing skills – and what that means – to get others to buy-in to initiatives.
A client1 of mine, a VP of learning and development for a global organization, (we’ll call her “Alison”) was frustrated that she could not get her peers to see her point of view and support an initiative with which she was tasked. Let’s step back a bit – Alison’s manager, the EVP of learning and development, (we’ll call her “Emily”) tasked Alison with developing a strategy for learning and development initiatives with a goal of training supervisory through to director-level employees in key skills. Abudi Consulting Group (ACG) was partnering with the organization to launch a 360 process of all 250 employees who held one of these titles in the organization to evaluate skills against a defined set of competencies for each level: supervisor, manager, senior manager and director. This would be the basis for developing the strategy.
Alison was responsible for working with ACG with a focus on reaching out to peer VPs across the organization (which number 60) in order to get them to assist her in engaging their staff (directors down to supervisors) in participating in the 360 assessment process. Alison had assumed this would be an easy task (her first mistake.)
The organization had only done a 360 once before in its history. That 360 assessment was launched internally by a previous head of human resources. Unfortunately, that individual shared the details of the assessment and there was significant retribution from individual’s responses to assessment surveys. As you can imagine, this limited the trust within the organization.
Alison knew of this history, which is why she tasked ACG with launching the 360. An outsider doing so meant that information gathered would be kept confidential.
Alison’s Peers’ Reactions
When Alison first approached her peers about their support for this initiative, she did so during a VP meeting, and towards the end of that meeting. Her opening line was, “Emily has asked me to lead an initiative to develop a strategic plan for learning and development initiatives with a specific focus on supervisors up to director-level roles. As part of that strategic plan, I am working with Abudi Consulting Group to launch a 360 assessment. I need your help in identifying individuals from your broader staff who should be participating in this initiative. In addition to employees currently in these roles, please identify those about to be promoted. Send me that information as soon as you can. I’ll schedule a virtual meeting to discuss this initiative more.” No sooner had Alison finished her sentence when she received significant push back from her peers. The push back centered primarily about the last time a 360 assessment was conducted. Peers noted it was a horrible situation and one they were not about to relive again. Alison had no time to counter this discussion, the meeting had ended and people left.
How the Situation Escalated
Although Alison had intended to talk about how the issue would be addressed to increase comfort, she neglected to do so with her peers. This set her back.
Additionally, she brought up a topic she knew might be troublesome at the end of a meeting with no real time to have a good conversation.
And, while Alison knew many of her peers, she certainly did not know all of them. She needed to get 84 peers on board with an initiative that had a fairly short timeline. This required her to be able to influence them to participate.
In Part 2 of this case study, we’ll explore how Alison would get back on track to get her peers on board.