Whether you are a rookie in today’s workplace or a seasoned veteran, you’ll be playing by a different set of rules. Behind these changes are several new trends changing the way companies operate in the business world. There are several areas in which big changes are happening:
Competition – The Race Heats Up
In the past few decades, and now with accelerating speed, there is global competition on a scale never before imagined. Countries are competing with each other to become suppliers and resources; there is competition among industries, and even within companies, there is growing competition among managers and employees.
Where does Influence come in?
In all these competitive arenas, especially within companies, those with the best Influence Skills usually win out.
Technology – hi-tech can lead to low-touch
Our global economy is made possible by new communication technology, which has created far-reaching change. Of course, a global pandemic, with so many of us working from home, has made us even more dependent on tech, to conduct our personal and work lives.
Today we are connected as never before; yet we still don’t always communicate effectively or influentially. As John Naisbitt, in his book “Megatrends” pointed out “high tech leaps ahead; high touch lags behind.” We may be losing our “high touch” skills and abilities.
We must learn Influence skills and strategies if we are to succeed in this more connected, yet more distant, environment.
INNOVATION – we’re all expected to be more creative
No longer is creativity the exclusive province of the marketing or advertising departments. In today’s most successful companies, all areas—manufacturing, management information systems, accounting, human resources, and research and development—are hotbeds of innovation and creativity.
More and more companies are demanding increased creativity from their staff for creative ideas and problem-solving. We are seeking ways to cut costs and improve productivity. In some forward-thinking companies, people with innovative ideas become “intrapreneurs”—innovators who work inside a corporate structure to create smaller business units, which operate almost independently of the parent organization.
This has worked very effectively when someone comes up with a great idea for a new business, service, or product. In most cases, this would mean the individual would leave his/ her company, try to get start-up money, do the risky and difficult work of launching a new venture. With intrapreneuring, the company keeps the person, giving him/her startup money, staff, and resources, for a share of the new business. In this scenario, everybody wins.
The Implications for Influence
Successfully implementing these new ideas and creative solutions calls for highly developed communication and influence skills. The innovator needs the ability to sell an idea to the decision-makers. We’ve all seen a great idea die a premature death or gather dust in a file drawer because its creator lacked influence skills.
Organizational Structure, Changing the Way Things Work
Top-Down is Out
Most companies have been formally structured from the top down on a strict military or hierarchical model. Upper management sits at the top of a pyramid, with varying layers of middle managers in the middle, and hundreds of supervisors and workers below. Orders issued at the top filter down through the organization. A single group of top individuals makes decisions; influence is top-down.
Flatter and Less Formal is In
Today, however, the way companies work is becoming less formal and relationships throughout a typical organization are starting to change.
The Implications for Influence
In this new organizational structure, the way things get done, especially by people in the middle and by staff or “individual contributors,” is through influence. You often have “dotted line” reporting relationships, or you’re on a team or task force where there is no clear authority. To get your voice heard, you must have Influence Skills.
What is needed now?
With all these changes and uncertainties, neither what you know nor who you know will be enough for you to succeed.
What you know – your technical or professional expertise, can become obsolete.
And you can’t simply count on your contacts, who you know to get what you want. High-level contacts can vanish overnight with the next corporate shake-up, budget cut, acquisition, or merger.
What you need is something of your own, an inner set of skills/resources that you have within you that will serve you wherever you happen to be. I call that “portable-power” or “Secrets of Influence”