How to positively influence employees without using authority

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

June 16 2016

As managers represent a position of authority within a company, it can become easy for them to assume that their position is what gains them respect and compliance from their employees. However, in reality this isn’t the case. In fact, wielding your level of authority can actually have a detrimental effect on workplace morale. This isn’t to say that there aren’t specific times where employers should take a more direct approach in their management style, but each situation should warrant a different tactic. Demonstrating the ability to positively influence your employees without putting your proverbial managerial heel down, is a skill which can encourage staff to follow your lead devoid of any unnecessary tension and animosity. But how can you master this skill and use it to your business’s advantage? Below are just a few ways you can strengthen your ability to positively influence your employees and build a more harmonious workplace. Benefits over features If you were to give your customers a list of product features without describing the benefits of those features, chances are they wouldn’t purchase that product. The same applies within the workplace. If, as an employer you constantly focus on what you want and expect from your employees without ever stating why, don’t be surprised if your employees are reluctant to share your opinions. In order to be more persuasive, think about the type of language you are using. Relaying the benefits behind completing a project helps to convey meaning to your employees. It helps them understand the value of what there are doing against the costs (i.e. the amount of time they put in). Appeal to their emotions Whilst crafting a solid argument plays a significant role in persuading or influencing your employees, simply relying on logic isn’t enough. During a debate, there are always two sides to the argument which can be equally logical. What often tips the scale for the spectator is when those who are leading the debate tap into the core of human nature, our emotions. This isn’t to say every good influencer has to play on people’s emotions. But rather they should create an equilibrium between a logical argument and appealing to the person’s emotional side. In order for this to work within business, employers must be transparent and demonstrate a genuine authenticity when attempting to influence their employees. This will involve a mix of positive body language, in addition to creating open and honest dialogue that builds upon the hard facts by giving an overall story or picture. Give employees a voice There comes a time where managers have to adopt a more supportive role by enabling their employees to voice their opinions and ideas. It is important not to assume that your employees understand their role or how to approach a particular situation. Take action by asking your employees questions and listening to their responses. Find out what they want to know and show that you understand where they are coming from, even if this doesn’t match with how you feel. In line with this, employers also need to know how to respond to what they hear. This may take some practice, but it is just as important as listening to your employee’s. For example, if an employee is struggling with a project they are working on, don’t just say you will look into it, discuss with the employee possible solutions to help rectify the situation. Simplicity is key Business is full of complex ideas and problems that if not communicated effectively fail to reach an appropriate conclusion. When communicating key messages, it is important to take into account the audience whom you are addressing. Remember, what senior members of staff will understand, won’t necessarily resonate with those with less experience. Don’t become that manager who conducts a presentation that goes on for hours because you have a million and one points to get in. Instead, focus on addressing the key points. If certain employees want you to expand upon this, then by all means supply them with further information. However, on the whole try to break down complex issues with graphs or images which clearly illustrate your message. Your ability to engage with your audience and understand how to keep their attention will give you more authority or influence than any label attributed to your position within a company.                            

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