The performance management process obviously requires a high degree of influencing skills to achieve positive results. It may be easy to tell someone what they have to achieve in a classic authoritarian style, but to motivate someone to work towards a set of self-defined objectives requires a higher and more mature level of people skills.
It is sometimes assumed that influencing skills, like leadership skills, are a gift that some people are born with. This might be true for a very small majority but it is not true for the vast majority of managers as we are all capable of improving our skills in influencing and persuading others. What we have to recognize is that in order to influence others we need to first understand what motivates and drives them. We often get into difficulties managing other people because we assume that they are motivated by exactly the same things. This is of course a big mistake as people generally do things for their own reasons and motivations, not ours. In seeking to influence others we also need to realize the impact of different influencing strategies.
Many of us, because of our life and work experiences, tend to develop a relatively narrow range of influencing strategies that we apply to all our work situations. In order to become truly successful influencers of people we need to develop far greater flexiblity in matching our influencing styles to particular people and situations. An understanding of the classic influencing styles can therefore help us begin to review our own approach and strategies.
Before using any influencing style we firstly need to be very clear on the outcomes we want to achieve. We then need to analyze the exact situation we are facing and then seek to recognize the other person’s perspective. A little advance planning and thought before we jump into situations can pay real dividends in helping us develop appropriate responses. Perhaps the most important thing to do when trying to influence others is to listen to what the other person is saying and seek to really understand their position and needs. Too often we allow our own needs to dominate and so lose sight of other strategies that might be employed in trying to move people to another position.