Stage 1. Objective: what do I want to be influential on?
Describe what you want to influence. For example, “I want to influence a particular branch head to engage a specific individual with disability, in a specific role.”
Stage 2. Who do I need to influence?
List those who you need to influence to achieve your objective. For example, the branch head, individuals in the workplace, the individual you are seeking to place.
Stage 3. How will I know I have been successful in my influencing?
Identify what you will see if your influence has been effective. For example, “If I am successful in influencing the branch head, he/she will respond positively to my suggestion as to how best place the person with a disability in the workplace.”
Stage 4. The ‘Aristotle test’ – is my influencing approach based on fact? Does it have an appropriate level of emotion? And, is it credible?
List the elements that make it so. For example, “I have researched the work demand in the branch, now and in the near future and there is a need for an extra resource (Fact). The person I am seeking to place has relevant skills and experience (Fact). The branch head is a high achiever and my proposal offers him/her an opportunity for the branch to perform at a higher level (Emotion). I have developed my influencing arguments in a way that recognises the needs of the branch and provides a business solution to a resource demand (Credibility).
Stage 5. What are the probable thinking styles of those I need to influence?
Return to step 2 and consider who it is that you need to influence. What is their probable dominant thinking style(s)? Have you crafted your influencing arguments to suit their thinking style(s)? For example, if your branch head’s behaviour indicates that he/she has a logical/analytical (Blue) thinking preference, does your influencing approach take this into account and present facts in a logical manner with appropriate costing arguments?
Stage 6. What are the principles of persuasion that I could apply to increase my influence in this case?
Remember, it is likely that a combination of principles will work best. Consider each principle and identify those that are most likely to support your cause. For example, use the Principle of Social Proof by identifying other branch heads who have proactively and successfully employed people with a disability. Perhaps also use the Principle of Authority, through providing statistics of successful sustained placements of people with disability within your own and other agencies, along with your own anecdotes of successful disability employment.
Stage 7. For each of the individuals identified in stage 2, assess the level of resistance each may be at and plan your response.
Are they at the denial, resistance, exploration or commitment stages? For example, you notice that in discussions with the branch head, he/she seems to be interested in understanding how a particular placement may work (exploration) but falls back to time and implementation concerns (resistance). In your future discussions have a number of options available for the branch head to explore, to assist the decision in moving forward.
Stage 8. Develop, confirm and implement your influencing plan.
Dot point your priorities. For example, in preparing to influence a logical and analytical focused branch head to employ a person with disability:
- Research effective placements of people with disability in the past.
- Identify particular branch heads who have been successful in supporting disability employment.
- Collate statistics and case studies of successful disability employment in your own and other organisations.
- Develop a draft placement plan to manage the employment of the person with disability.
- Develop a brief risk analysis and risk treatment strategies for the placement.
- Collate all the above into a concise and well-presented document to provide to the branch head in preparation for your next meeting.
- At that meeting have a clear goal and action plan expressed in an agenda.
- Start the meeting with a concise statement of what you want to achieve, followed by a presentation of the key factual components of your influencing arguments. Ensure that you mention other successes in disability employment, particularly peers of the branch head.
Stage 9. Have I been successful?
It is useful to consider the success of your influencing efforts against your original goal. Even if you do meet your objective it is useful to ask yourself: What did I do well in the influencing exercise? Is there anything I would do differently in the future? For example, “In influencing the logical and analytical branch head, I effectively utilised the Principles of Social Proof and Authority. I was successful in the end. What I had not realised initially was that she / he also has a strong thinking preference to do with stepping through processes to minimise risk. If I was to do the exercise again I would spend more time preparing risk treatment strategies and outlining the process steps in employing a person with a disability.”