The “Lost Opportunity” Influence Attempt


(Part 5 of 5 on Increasing Influence)

A manager said to one of his account executives.  “If you will agree to deliver your service at no commission, we can get a second contract that is quite profitable.”

“Why should I do that?  I will not be the one to deliver the profitable service.  Someone else will benefit from my sacrifice.”

“True.  But our division will generate a lot more revenue due to your cooperation.  If you refuse to cooperate, you will lose an opportunity for a nice financial gain at the end of the year.”

This manager’s influence effort threatens the account executive by pointing out how lack of cooperation will result a lost benefit.

Other examples:  “If your absentee rate continues, you will lose the opportunity to work here.”  “If you continue to be out of compliance, you will lose revenue due to heavy fines.”  “If you do not honor the guarantee, you will lose a lot of business from this customer.”

Threats and fear influence attempts are distasteful for most of us.  And there may sometimes be nasty side effects.  For these reasons, I think the “lost opportunity” justification should be employed infrequently and only after other influence attempts have failed.

 

Use “Social Proofs” to Increase Influence


(Part 4 of 5 on Increasing Influence)

A company survey revealed that almost fifty percent of its employees were occasionally out of compliance with its eye protection policy.

Violators gave many excuses:  “I wasn’t in the area very long.”  “The glasses give me a headache.” “They blur my vision.” “I just forgot.”

To increase compliance, management toughened its disciplinary policy, posted pictures of nasty eye injuries, and displayed “reminders” in every nook and cranny.  After a few weeks, compliance increased a meager five percent.

Management changed its influence tactics to stress examples of success such as:  “An accident-free competitor reports that ninety-eight percent of its employees comply with eye protection requirements,” and “The plant with the best safety record in our industry reveals that eighty-five percent of its employees like their wrap around eye protection.”

A few weeks of this campaign showed a seventy-three percent improvement rate.

The successful influence attempt used the concept of “social proof,” where individuals strive to mimic the actions of others.   Most employees have a social need that motivates them to adopt behaviors of successful peers and authorities.

Industry best practices, testimonials, ratings, certifications and the like influence our behaviors because they are manifestations of social proof.

Use Rational Persuasion to Increase Your Influence


Part 2 of 5 on Increasing Influence

To complete his compliance reports, Gael needed data from Rochelle, an employee in another department.  Although Rochelle was very conscientious, Gael knew that she was immersed in a high-priority project for her boss.

“Rochelle, I will need data from you on Compliance Form 1049 by the tenth of the month.”

“Gael, I’m very busy right now.  Can I get it to you later?”

“I’ll need it by the tenth so that I can get all reports compiled and submitted by the twelfth.”

“Can someone else get what you need?”

“Not really.  The information is very sensitive and you are the gatekeeper.  As you may be aware, last year’s mishaps put us on probation.  Your data will ensure that we meet all of the auditors’ standards.   Compliance will allow us to continue providing our great service to the community without interruption.”

Gael’s communication to Rochelle illustrates an attempt to get another party to do something based on rational persuasion (sometimes called merit-based).  Rational persuasion connects the dots by explaining how a request serves departmental objectives, contributes to the company mission, and provides benefit to the community.

In everyday language, rational persuasion attempts meet the common-sense standard, “Explain what you need and why.”

 

Increase Your Influence via Reciprocity


(Part 1 of 5 on Increasing Influence)

“I have a dilemma,” Braylon confided to a friend.

“How so?”

“Araceli asked me to analyze three software programs for her department.”

“You are an expert on software.  What’s the dilemma?”

“Jaxson wants me to upgrade materials for his new-employee orientation program. I don’t have time to do a good job on both.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I think I’ll respond to Araceli’s request.  I’ll tell Jaxson my schedule is full.  He has something on file that he can use.”

“Are you sure that is the right priority?”

“I’m not sure but I can’t refuse Araceli’s request.  She saved my bacon last month.  She created very clever brochures that boosted attendance at our recognition dinner.”

Braylon is responding to the concept of reciprocity—responding to a positive action of another by repaying the person with a positive action.

Reciprocity is a powerful motivator.  To increase your influence, look for ways to help others.  Extend yourself to welcome new employees.  Be quick to share your skills with struggling team members.  Do not wait to be asked.  Anticipate and volunteer.

By adding value for others, you build a reservoir of goodwill.  When, in the future, you need to exert your influence, you are more likely to get “yes’s.”

 

Celebrate Accomplishments, Not Pay


(Part 5 of 5 on Employee Pay)

Of course, you should pay employees well.  Money may not be a good motivator but it can certainly be a treacherous turn off.  Decades ago, Professor Frederick Herzberg, identified pay as a dissatisfier.  For example:

“Surveys say that pay is not a motivator.  Why are you upset?”

“Because you told me I was a good hand but my merit increase average.”

“I like your product but I can’t join your company.”

“Why not?”

“Your pay scale is about fifteen percent below the market.”

Laszlo Bock, of Google, Inc., agrees that you should pay well but put the focus on celebrating accomplishments.

For example, a supervisor promised her team pizza after work for completing a project.  A superintendent created a watermelon party for achieving a performance metric.

Managers, after a good year, organized a steak dinner for employees.  One manager asked his group if they would like anything special.  “Yes,” said an employee, “we like for the management team to serve the steaks.”  They did.  All had a good time.

The manager of a service department organized a pancake and sausage breakfast for improved customer service scores.  Think celebratory events, concert tickets, VIP parking, free books and seminars, and of course hand written notes.

 

Managers Should Not Discuss Salary During Appraisals


(Part 4 of 5 on Employee Pay)

“I think annual merit pay increases should be tied to employees’ productivity,” stated a manager.

“I agree,” I responded.

“I also think,” the manager continued, “that appraisal interviews should focus on employee development.  But it seems that during my appraisal interviews, all employees want to talk about is the amount of their raises.”

While many organizations consider both performance appraisals and salary reviews on an annual basis, they should not be combined.  Pay raises, or lack thereof, communicate strong messages to employees.  Salary discussions during appraisal interviews bury attempts of meaningful employee development conversations.

Consider appraisals and salary reviews to be related but separate.  I like quarterly appraisals where managers discuss where employees have performed well and what they might improve upon.  The appraisal at the end of quarter four builds on feedback given and received during the first three appraisals.

Approximately two weeks after the fourth appraisal, managers can report annual merit increases individually to employees.  There is no need to mention appraisal information when communicating pay increases.  Employees are very insightful.  If managers have been candid during appraisal interviews, employees will connect the dots between productivity and salary.

 

Pay Your Top Producers More–A Lot More


Part 3 of 5 on Employee Pay

After a rousing success, an entrepreneur decided to sell his company to a large conglomerate.  Negotiators from the purchasing company, marveled at the entrepreneur’s achievement but gasped at the vast differences in pay among his employees.

Suspecting favoritism, a negotiator commented, “Your pay scale seems to be out of whack.”

“What do you mean?”

“You are paying some people a whole lot more than others, although they are doing the same jobs.  Why is that?”

“Well, some people produce a lot more than others.  I take care of my stars.”

The entrepreneur spoke truth.  Research by professors O’Boyle and Aguinis shows that top producers in most groups do indeed produce more—a lot more—than average employees.  A few high producers pull the average up, making most employees below-average.

Still most pay distributions follow a normal curve which makes the pay scale unfair to the very best producers.  For instance, assume twenty employees in a group. In most departments, about ten employees would receive above-average pay and ten would receive below-average pay.

You want to pay fairly?  Then pay your very top producers at least three to four times more than you pay average producers.