Monday, June 17, 2013

Power of Persuasion

What are you trying to change? Is there a new technology you want to employ at your meetings? Do you want your organization to be more social? Are you trying to advocate for the meetings industry by educating others on the importance of what you do? Even if you are not trying to change anything else, advocating for yourself and your career is crucial.

For many people, the skills of influence and persuasion seem to be out of reach. In the movie Moneyball, the General Manager runs across a kid with an innovative idea and takes him under his wing. He only does this because he knows he cannot build his baseball team the way he has always done it. He fights with the scouts and the coach and never really gets buy-in from any of them. He simply works around them.
Is there a lesson we can learn from Moneyball or do we use our position (and perceived lack of power) as an excuse?

The problem I have is that I am often too passionate about the subject. Instead of focusing on how the results of my message will benefit my audience, I rely too much on the factual information and the assumption that everyone else wants to improve the situation as much as I do. In Moneyball, the General Manager acknowledges that he should have gotten the coach more involved in the process. However, what he probably meant was that he should have made it seem like his opinion mattered. Even though he was the boss, the lack of support from someone who reported to him affected the outcome of the project. It seems that most people are accepting of change in a general sense but still not thrilled to change how they process on a daily basis.

Most of us are not in a position to just “work around” the people who don’t agree with us. Therefore, we have to practice our power of persuasion until we become more effective at initiating change. Before offering solutions, sometimes the problem must be defined first. If the people around you do not even realize that revenue could be increased or costs could be decreased by doing something different, then you might want to start there. Do what you can to learn more about your company and the industry it serves. When you can speak about how something new will impact the organization beyond your department, then you might get the attention of the right people.

Of course, all of this is easier when you work for a company with an innovative culture. Generation Y employees are looking for a company with a culture of innovation. They want to be heard and have their ideas considered, even though they don’t have the years of experience that you do. Are you working with people who are younger than you? Are you actively seeking out their opinions? They might be the best people to support your innovative ideas.