by Patty Azzarello
Do you have a seat at the table?
I am often asked to speak about how to have more influence.
Managers often feel like they are getting blocked or ignored by the power structure in their company.
How can you make sure you are included when important strategies are being decided? How can you impact them?
There are many aspects to this including the need to increase the impact of your work, build your credibility, make the right connections with people, and create a network of support for your ideas, your work, and your career.
But today I want to talk about something very specific. A powerful, practical approach to dramatically increase your influence with your stakeholders.
Be a Translator
I canât overstate the importance of translating what you talk about into the language of your stakeholders.
It starts hereâ¦
No one really cares what you doâ¦
(At least not as much as you do.)
Donât Educate.Â Be more Relevant.
Donât try to educate your stakeholders. I often talk to managers who say, I need to educate my boss about what my group does.
My advice. Donât bother. It doesnât work and it only annoys both of you!
But the important thing to realize is this:
If you have to educate people about what you do, you are not relevant.
Just think about that. If you have to educate, you are not relevant…
What IS relevant? What they already know and care about.
If you want to increase your influence, the way to be more relevant is to always start your conversation with something they already know and care about.
Use that as a hook, and then hang your information that hook.
They will think you are smart and be motivated to listen to you because you are starting the conversation by making them feel smart.
You are engaging them on terms they already know and on things they want to make progress on. Once they are thinking that, they will be ready to listen to you.
Translate your ideas, use their hook
To follow the marketing example, donât talk about a multi-quarter integrated marketing campaign. While you are at it, donât even use the word marketing. Talk about building pipeline, decreasing the time to close a sale, or opening new revenue streams.
If you are in IT donât talk about data centers and virtualization. Translate to improving sales effectiveness, helping reach new markets, or reducing the cost of acquiring customers.
A magic translation tool
Here is a very specific bit of magic to make your work and your ideas much more relevant to the rest of the business.
1. Interview your business stakeholders about what they care about. What is driving their business? What are their pressures and opportunities? What are their key âcanât failâ initiatives right now?
2. Listen for two things:
- What are the things on their list?
- What are the exact words they use to describe them?
3. Go back and summarize their top initiatives in their words.
4. Prepare your next communication about what you are doing or trying to influence and ONLY USE THEIR WORDS.
Use your âoutside voiceâ
Remember your plans and your budget are riddled with jargon from your own function. I call that your âinside voiceâ. You need those things to run your function but donât â under any circumstances â use those those same artifacts to communicate outside your function.
You need to use your âoutside voiceâ. You need to specifically create new communication tools that are versions of your plans, your proposals, and your budget, but using the language of your stakeholders.
The magic then happens when you are suddenly asking them to approve budget for things they want anyway!
When you translate and use their words, not yours, you are more relevant, you appear more credible and you dramatically increase your ability to influence.
Have you ever been blocked?
What things have you done to increase your influence? Please leave your ideas in the comment box below.
Patty Azzarello works with executives where leadership and business challenges meet. She has held leadership roles in General Management, Marketing, Software Product Development and Sales, and has been successful in running large and small businesses. She writes at Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. You’ll find her on Twitter as @PattyAzzarello
Successful-Blog is proud affiliate of