Use Your Influencing Skills
Read Part 1 of this mini case study.
In this second part of the case study, we’ll explore how Alison got back on track to get her peers on board with an initiative to undertake a 360 assessment in order to develop a strategic plan for learning and development.
Alison Reflected on the Meeting
I met with Alison to reflect on the meeting and determine how to move forward. When we had initially met, I had recommended that Alison wait to talk with her peers until we had crafted a message for them; however, because she felt pressured by her boss, Emily; Alison felt she had to move quickly. Alison noted that she could tell Emily who could force her peers to participate; but we agreed that was not the best approach and should definitely be the last tactic to use.
Rather, we discussed the following as the best path to take to move forward:
Discussion with Emily
Alison would meet with Emily to explain the need to slow down just a bit on the process of conducting a 360. We framed the following as important to Emily and therefore a focus on the conversation with her:
- A larger response to the 360 assessment, and a more honest response, if time was taken to sell the idea to the other VPs, who can then sell it down the ladder (to the lower levels of leadership, who can then engage their staff in the value of participating in the 360.)
By getting more and better data from the 360 assessment, the strategic plan would be a stronger, actionable plan.
Since this strategic plan for learning and development was a key initiative for Emily this year, we knew this would be a selling point to get her to slow down and not initiate the 360 until 75 days had passed.
Meetings with peers
- Talk with those peers with whom Alison had strong working relationships and with whom she had collaborated previously on major initiatives (about 20 of them.)
- Alison felt she could do this via phone calls given her close ties to each of these peers. She had developed trust with each of them and they believed her to be credible.
- Talk with those peers with whom Alison had developed solid working relationships even though they had not worked together closely on any initiatives (about 15 of them.) Relationships were developed with these peers through regular interactions at a variety of events and meetings (outside of the usual bi-monthly virtual VP meeting.)
- Alison felt that she could do this via small group meetings (no more than 5 peers at a time) or via a virtual meeting if needed; since she believed she had credibility with these individuals.
That left about 25 peers with whom Alison had no basis for a working relationship; she barely knew them and her only interactions with them were during the bi-monthly virtual VP meetings. Alison felt these meetings had to be done face-to-face, one-on-one as she needed to develop a relationship with them to develop trust. She felt she could accomplish these meetings over an intensive three week period.
All Peer Meeting
Last, Alison would hold an all-peer virtual meeting to review in details the 360. I would help Alison facilitate this meeting, sharing how to engage employees in the 360 as well as how data will be protected and held confidential.
All Staff Communication
After the all peer meeting, when we felt everyone was on board and comfortable, a communication would be sent to all staff about the 360, its value and how data was being used.
We felt this plan was the best way to move forward and could be accomplished in the 75 days that Alison was going to ask Emily for.
Alison’s meeting with Emily
Alison met with Emily shortly after we developed this plan to move forward. She explained what happened in her initial approach with her peers. As we had discussed, she focused on the need to slow down and start the 360 later after she had time to engage her peers. Alison shared some information I had provided her about the value and benefit of getting commitment and buy-in to 360s in order to ensure success in the effort. Alison also shared that if we started later, we were more likely to stick to the timeline as by engaging people in the process before we started it, they were more likely to respond by deadlines and we would need to do less “chasing” of folks for their input.
Emily agreed to a 75 day delay before launch but asked that Alison work to shorten that timeline if at all possible.
Alison effectively influenced Emily to agree with her perspective that the 360 assessment should not be launched for at least 75 days. She did this through focusing on what was important to Emily – the success of the 360 in order to craft a strong strategic plan for learning and development. She also relied on her relationship with Emily – Emily trusted Alison – to guide Emily to agreeing to the delay in the 360 start.
But we still had our work cut out for us!
Stay tuned for Part 3 – the results of Alison’s outreach efforts to peers.
When faced with need to influence others to take action, be sure to develop a plan for how you will proceed. This plan may look different depending on your relationships with those whom you need to influence.