Simple Ways to Gain Influence in Your Company

Influence. It’s something we all want to have but often times don’t know how to gain it. I’ve worked in places where employees have come up to me and asked me why other employees don’t listen to them when they suggest a method of solving a given problem or another asks why people don’t come to them when doing something they have expertise in.

Two Types of Influence

Let’s look at the two types of influence: positional (or authoritative) and personal. Positional influence or power comes from the fact you outrank everyone else in the conversation. At the end of the day, whatever you say goes. This is not something you want to use all that often, or at all, it is a great way to get everyone to dislike you really quickly. You might produce results but you’ll have a lot of churn beneath you. The other type of influence is personal and is the preferred way to be able to help guide decisions. Personal influence means people trust your judgement and come to you with their problems when they need advice on how to solve it.

How to Create Personal Influence

Now, how do we gain personal influence within a company? First, take a look at what I wrote here about fitting in at a company. If you can’t fit in at a company, you aren’t going to go very far in gaining influence.

Do Your Job Well

Pretty obvious, right? People won’t believe you when you say you know something when you don’t do your job well. So, first things first, deliver. Build that string of quarters where you deliver well-written, tested, quality code or report or whatever the case may be. Remember, we’re all allowed to have a few missteps; if you don’t have them, you’re playing it safe and you aren’t growing. Which leads us to the next point…

Show Growth and Innovation

Now, I’m not saying creating an entirely new product or inventing a new programming language. I’m talking about learning about everything in your company. (Sorry for the tech heavy references, but you write what you know about :). If you’re working on a product that uses an older version of Java, see if it’s possible to update it to the newest version and then use the syntactic sugar to make the code easier to understand. If you are converting a codebase from a single machine program to a cloud-based program, as you’re converting it, find ways to horizontally scale it. On an even easier level, as you’re working on code, use the Boy Scout rule and leave it cleaner than you saw it. Simple things that show you’re understanding the product and environment in which you work can easily be seen by everyone else.

Presentations and Lunch and Learns

I know I’ve said this before, but, I’m saying it again it is that important. Knowledge sharing is a great way to be seen, contribute to everyone learning something new, and striking up new conversations about what you enjoy.

Become a Knowledge Sponge

If there is something you like or are interested in, read about it. Practice it. Attempt to make programs or items with it. Talk to other people about it. The more you learn the better off you are. Never stop learning.

Listen and Ask Questions

This is probably the hardest one of all. Just listening. I’m guilty of having a hard time on this one too, but, just shut up and let the people talk to you. Then ask questions to learn more about their problems and concerns. Finally, if you do it right, you can ask the right questions to get the people in the conversation to come around to your way of thinking.

Wrapping it All Up

Gaining personal influence is very hard to do and takes a lot of persistence and time. Hopefully these few suggestions can help you do your job and not require you to kill yourself to do so.