Mentoring

Developing Influence and Strengthening Communication: Mentors Share Their Insights

By Laura GluhanichJuly 13, 2017

In our most recent Ask Me Anything, we highlighted Everwise mentors with expertise in communication and influence. Our community brought dozens of questions and issues to light in a brilliant discussion thread.

Thanks to the following mentors for providing their insights into the challenges the community brought to the conversation:

A few community members brought up difficulties influencing teams or individuals. Sheila Miller leads off with advice that echos throughout, find out how you can help. “One of the best methods for strengthening relationships with other teams is to sit down with them and ask them what your team can do to better support their projects. Then, ask for ideas on how you and your team can collaborate with them to achieve the organizational goals. By positioning yourselves as partners in achieving company goals, you’re highlighting the fact that you are teammates in the collaboration that is needed for the organization to succeed.”

Kiran Adibhatla adds, “It is equally important to be aware of the political landscape as well. (You) don’t need to participate but being aware is key.”

Beyond influencing people, a few community members shared instances where they need help in getting cross-functional projects accomplished. Adibhatla says, “It’s very important to clarify roles and responsibilities when creating the project charter, right at the start.”

Miller offers the following, “Finding the right method and cadence for communication delivery is a challenge, especially if you have managers who are requesting information and feedback on their staff. The best way to avoid the design-by-committee scenario is to decide at the beginning how decisions are going to be made. On my last project, I had a “silence = consent” rule for any feedback I solicited.“

Bilal Surahyo provides a specific framework, “I would suggest tracking progress through weekly, biweekly, or monthly project update meetings. One can set up a Project Steering committee, with key responsible individual and project sponsors meeting weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on the project timeline.”

An all too common scenario is influencing within the realm of a meeting, where you may be getting talked over, or ignored. Adibhatla explains, “Slowly but surely I learnt not to let it impact me; instead, I deal with it. For instance if I am interrupted, I pause and say ‘it’s my turn to speak, let me finish my thought.’ If someone re-states the same thing I said, I speak up and say ‘that’s exactly what I said and thank you for adding further details.’ ”

Miller offers a few other tacks. “If you are not comfortable trying to out-shout the more self-assured personalities, one trick that I have found is to circle back with the team leader via email. The other suggestion I have is to consider implementing a meeting moderator in team settings where things might be a bit out of control. Make sure that all participants understand the meeting code of conduct and give the moderator the power to enforce those rules.”

For those times where projects don’t make it to completion, or even past proposal stage, these experts offered validation and tips for moving forward. “Failure leads to success,” according to Surahyo.

From Adibhatla’s perspective, “everyone will say yes for ideas but for me, failure is when we fail to execute or adopt.”

Miller recommends “shifting focus away from measuring the number of projects or process changes that you are able to implement and instead look at the impact of those that you are able to achieve that buy-in for. You want quality, not quantity.”

Another topic broached is how to effect change when new to an organization, or while in a risk-averse industry. Miller explains, “do not focus solely on the benefits to be gained, highlight the risks for not launching the project. Tailor your presentation to your audience. For example, if presenting to the CFO, show the numbers.”

Surahyo adds. “Introduction of new ideas can be tricky at various stages. Remember to be knowledgeable and fact based and focus on how they can benefit from positive changes.”

Adibhatla reminds us to consider, “What are the top priorities for the team and organizations? Aligning with manager’s expectations is key. Figure out what is gap, and plan to fill those gaps.”

Sign up to explore more of this conversation and add your questions to our upcoming AMA focused on global management.

Laura Gluhanich

Laura Gluhanich

About the Author

Laura is the Head of Community at Everwise, focused on building a vibrant community of professionals. She’s passionate about mentorship, music and wine.

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