Things for teams to try: Improving Influence Decisions

We do better at work when we can influence the things at the core of our day-to-day experience - without needing to be involved in every decision.

9 Influence decisions - team

1. Prioritize conversation over communication

Communication is one-way; conversation is two-way. A rewarding conversation is one where we give and receive. And when people learn how to talk things through constructively, their sense of influence goes up!

How to do it:

  • Try framing your team challenges as conversations so that everyone can be involved in solving them.
  • Use the different knowledge and approaches that come out of this to shape the direction you take in future challenges.

2. Work out what you can influence

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey distinguishes between your “Circle of Concern” - what you care about - and your “Circle of Influence” - what you can influence. Spending too much time thinking about things outside of our “Circle of Influence” is draining. Instead, work out what you can influence, and focus on that.

How to do it:

  • As a team, list all the things that concern you - one sticky note for each concern.
  • Next, collect together all the sticky notes that relate to concerns your team can influence.
  • Now steer your energy and the conversation towards those things you can influence - as individuals and as a team.
  • Remember, focusing on what you can influence will mean:
  1. You'll make more effective changes and actions, and others will start to see you and your team as more effective, which will increase your influence.
  2. You'll learn more about how far your “Circle of Influence” extends. This will shape how you form partnerships with people who have the power to influence more of what concerns you.
  3. In time your “Circle of Influence” will grow.

3. Distribute leadership in the team

Leadership is an activity, not a role. It's about energizing and motivating people and building capacities for change and improvement. When we recognize this, we are freer to explore who will envision, motivate and steward a particular team goal.

How to do it:

  • Start by discussing where and how you lead in other areas of life (e.g. in the family, in the community, with friendship groups).
  • Think about the following:
  • Where have you exercised your leadership muscles lately?
  • How do you lead? What works? What feels comfortable? What doesn't?
  • What strategies have you found helpful when leading from below?
  • What new things have you learned about each other which you can apply to share leadership responsibilities across the team?
  • When you think about the culture of the organization as a whole, which responsibilities should your team leader retain?
  • Distributing leadership will give the team more energy, reduce decision-making bottlenecks and frustrations, raise levels of competency and enhance team performance.

4. Craft your job

Those who craft their jobs report higher levels of work satisfaction. Think of it as gently bending the rules and subtly changing what we emphasize and incorporate into our work. These changes elevate the meaning we get from work and this energizes us to work with greater commitment!

How to do it:

  • Try looking at three areas where most of us have some freedom to influence, and consider whether they can be tweaked:
  1. The tasks that comprise your job, for instance how the tasks are ordered.
  2. The relationships and interactions of your job. For example, can you invest more in the people that bring joy, while helping execute work? Remember: who we build relationships with affects how inspired we feel, and the level of support we get.
  3. How your job is thought about. Such as using inspirational job titles - whether we call ourselves “housekeeper in a hospital” or a “healer in the house of hope” can make all the difference to how we see and go about our work.

5. Start with trust

We often think that people need to build or earn trust before we grant them more influence, when often it's the leap of faith that is the real hallmark of trust.

How to do it:

  • Be explicit about the expectations you have for each other; this nurtures and protects trust.
  • As a team, discuss:
  1. What expectations do we have for each other, which we talk about?
  2. What expectations do we have for each other, which we don't talk about?
  • Think about whether you can use your expectations as a framework for giving each other more influence over what is done and the way it is done.