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Change Management: 8 Ways To Influence Change


2 October 2017

With the economy teetering close to flat growth, there is increased pressure to influence change in your business and change management to not only maintain but also improve margins and profits sustainably.

As part of any change management process the ability to influence a “step change” in how things are done is critical; particularly when implementing new processes and behaviours in large organisations.

This step change can only occur with the buy-in and support of employees and teams who are stakeholders in the business.

Traditional thinking suggests that power enables you to get things done, and in any organisation sources of power can include having formal authority, information, expertise, resources and reputation.

However, it’s important to note that there are informal power resources that can advance your change management agenda.

One key informal power source can be your influencing skills, particularly when trying to negotiate outcomes.

8 ways to influence change
Here are some common behaviours I have seen in leaders who are successfully influencing teams and people in a change environment:

  • When it’s important to get everyone on board and you know some will resist, having one-on-one discussions with key dissenters (rather than finger-pointing in a group meeting) will help them save face and help you make progress.
  • In the face of strong resistance, you can gain a breakthrough by asking for small things. People will feel obliged to give in to a small request especially if they have turned down a large one.
  • Making allies quickly is crucial. Once you have one ally, the chances of adding more increases dramatically (a minority of one almost never wins, but a minority of two has a great chance of winning). Also, empowering allies to speak on your behalf gives an indication of neutrality, especially when you are seen as wedded to one side.
  • If you are faced with a strong story that supports all the facts (and needs), you need another strong story that ties all the facts. In other words, stories are more credible than facts.
  • Strong and vivid counterexamples make more of an impact than mere logic.
  • Use only strong arguments in support of your story. Too many arguments dilute your position, as the strength of your position is determined by the weakest argument.
  • Do not qualify your disagreement with the statement: ‘I disagree because…’. This encourages defensiveness in the person or group you are engaging with. An alternative would be to say “please explain”, “can you provide further information?” or “I don’t understand”.
  • If you are in a minority, you are likely to win the argument only when you are seen as a central member of the group, are consistent and couch your position as the default or normative position of the group.

I’d be interested to hear your tips on how to influence change in your teams

Vantage Performance is Australia’s leading turnaround management and profit improvement firms – solving complex problems for businesses experiencing major change. 

Dom attended the London Business School executive program and acknowledges Dr Michael Jarrett as a source of some of the content on influencing behaviours.

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