Influencing Upwards

By 18th May 2018Strategy

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to present at the HELOA London Training Day held at Queen Mary University of London yesterday.  I met a group of passionate, inspiring professionals dedicated to improving opportunities for young people in HE, and hosted a workshop on how to influence upwards.

Six steps to influencing upwards

Six Steps to Influencing Upwards (click to enlarge)

The model that I introduced provoked a lively exchange of experiences and a debate on the emotions that this term can provoke.  We had a useful reminder that “influencing upwards” is not about some underhand way of getting someone to do something they don’t want to do – it is about working collaboratively to achieve mutual benefit: “a conscious approach to working with your manager towards mutually agreed-upon goals that are in the best interests of you, your boss, and your organisation” as defined in the excellent “Managing Up” published by Harvard Business Review.

Finding better ways to work with colleagues, managers and senior decision makers is something that has fascinated me for many years, starting with my very first project at Logica when I was 6 weeks out of university and found myself on my own, sharing an office with the client.  I remember realising that I needed to understand the world from his perspective if the computer model I was building was going to be a success, and I’ve tried hard to put myself in the other person’s shoes ever since. It’s a skill that employers look for in the graduates they hire, and I’m developing a workshop for students to help with this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you influence upwards (or sideways… or downwards…) in your work environment.  My first step has always been to listen more than I speak – to try to understand the political landscape and how the visible (and not so visible…) interactions between various departments happen.  What is your top tip?

Understanding the landscape

Understanding the landscape (click to enlarge)

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