NZ Adviser: How to increase your influence at work - Michelle Gibbings

As financial advisers your work environment keeps changing. At the same time, you are asked to do more with less, while expectations are increasing from all quarters.

To thrive through change and make more progress, you have to be able to influence.

Here are three tips to get you started. Go to the NZ website to read the full article.

As financial advisers your work environment keeps changing. There’s a constant stream of regulatory and business changes. At the same time, you are asked to do more with less, while expectations are increasing from all quarters – the community, stakeholders and colleagues.

Successful financial advisors know how to influence. They know how to get things done through other people and are aware of the environment in which they are operating. They know how to use their personal power to secure outcomes enabling them to cut through the noise, get traction and make change happen. This creates competitive advantage in the workplace.

In contrast, those who can’t influence find themselves exiled from the organisation’s decision makers. They become ‘out of the loop’ on issues that matter. Uninvolved in critical decisions. Their voice goes unheard.

All of which makes it harder for them to get things done. And financial advisors who can’t deliver results, don’t progress.

The solution to this dilemma – being able to influence.

This is not self-serving influence. Rather it’s focused on ensuring balanced outcomes, considering the needs of all stakeholders.

Being influential isn’t a trait acquired from birth. It’s a skill that can be learned. When it is applied to achieve good outcomes, it plays an important part in creating healthy, sustained progress.

Here are three elements to consider:

1. Gain insight
Firstly, examine the mindset being applied to work and relationships.  Letting assumptions drive thought processes, and ultimately behaviour, can negatively impact your decision making and interactions with colleagues and stakeholders.

Similarly, take the time to understand what intrinsically motivates those around you.  Having insight into others better enables you to work with them, and encourage and inspire them to secure common goals.

And lastly, know the system in which the organisation operates, and how the players inter-relate, make decisions, and secure outcomes.  This includes understanding what drives change in the environment, as well as the organisation’s strategy, business model and challenges.

Play the long game
Seek to secure long term, constructive relationships which are mutually beneficial. One sided relationships – where it’s all about one person – are not sustainable.  Seek to give, before you ever ask for something from the other person.

It’s also important to be conscious about how you build your network. Identify relationship gaps and weaknesses, and put a plan in place to address.

As well, be conscious of your actions and how they are seen by other people. Inconsistencies in what you say and do are easily seen by others.  It’s hard to build relationships when you are seen as inauthentic and untrustworthy.

Craft your impact
Influential people have impact. They get things done, communicate effectively and know how to negotiate outcomes.

So, be deliberate about how you use your time. Be decisive in how you make decisions.  And be determined in the face of set-backs. Persistence pays off.

Keep your communication simple, and remember: it’s not how much you talk, but what you say that matters.  Ground your messages in reality and what people need to know.

And lastly, treat decision making negotiations as an opportunity to build relationships. Be prepared, principled and focused.

If you want to step up and grow your career, learning the art and science of influence is essential.