Being able to effectively express yourself and influence others in your job and career is critical to motivation and engagement. The benefits are many and include:
-Increasing job satisfaction as issues that might otherwise fester get aired and dispelled.
-Gaining a greater sense of control over aspects that impact you.
-Gaining greater respect from others for standing up for yourself and what you believe.
-Staying true to your conscience, which is critical to maintaining your passion for what you do.
-Supporting your career progression.
But how you express yourself is also critical. By speaking up without respecting others, with simply yourself in mind, is a sure way to make an impact that you don't want.
Your manager plays a critical role in helping you secure what you need in your work. It is one of his/her most important responsibilities. So how can you leverage this optimally? Here are 6 steps to ensuring that your voice is not only heard at work but also listened to...
1) Ask for time to talk
Ask your manager to schedule time in his/her schedule for a dedicated discussion. This not only serves to emphasize to your manager that this is important to you, but also ensures that the discussion is not rushed.
2) Be Clear and Specific
Initiate the discussion with 1) A synopsis of the issue and 2) Why it is important to you. In this way, you draw your manager's attention right away to the "what" and "why" of the matter. Whatever the issue, expressing why it is meaningful to you ensures that your manager understands the gravity of the discussion.
This will take some vulnerability on your part. It can be hard to express a part of you that may not normally be seen by others. But to effect the change you want, letting down your guard somewhat is sometimes needed to communicate in clear terms what you really want.
3) Be part of the solution
During my many years as a manager, I expected that when an issue was brought forward to me it be accompanied by a solution. Laying out for your manager how you see the issue being addressed - ideally via a number of possible routes - shows that you have put a lot of thought into the matter. At the same time, you are also providing him/her ideas as to how to move forward on your behalf. If you want to influence action, build the path forward with your solutions.
4) Think win-win-win
Keep in mind that whatever you may be asking for, it is quite possible that your manager will need to "sell" the idea further. Think of the win-win-win scenarios as you build your solutions. Showing how providing you what you need in your job also benefits your manager and your company increases his/her buy-in and potential impact in influencing others to make it happen.
5) Be Positive
People and companies for the most part strive to do the best they can. What may seem like a glaring issue or gap to you personally may not rank at the same level of importance to your manager or company at this moment. By showing that you understand this, and at the same time emphasizing the positive aspects of your role, you ramp up receptivity to your needs and your influence-potential. People are always much more likely to be your advocate if you are positive and show empathy for their own situation.
6) Gain commitment
Once you have gained agreement from your manager on a plan of action, confirm the follow up plan. What specifically are you and your manager committing to for next steps? What is the timeframe for your manager to make a decision or take the issue forward? When will the next follow up discussion occur? These are some of the aspects that need to be hammered out before the call ends so that you significantly increase the chances that action will actually occur.
Applying these steps will help you increase your influence and gain the support of your manager to get what you need. As importantly, you will also be strengthening a partnership that will help open doors to new possibility!
Glenn Case is a Career Success and Leadership Coach focused on guiding others toward greater career fulfillment. He can be contacted at www.glenncasecoaching.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/glenncase.