FastCompany.com recently featured a story on Salesforce.com’s Chatter system, and its purported ability to quantify individuals’ influence on the organization. Imagine being able to identify the most influential folks in your organization. You could:
- identify the best folks to populate and internal intelligence network
- codify stakeholder relationships to identify who you should engage in projects to improve business decisions
- know who to work with to inject insights into your company’s natural learning patterns
But influence is also a key tool in a researcher’s arsenal, and a tool that can quantify influencing skills could change the way our performance is measured in the years to come.
I’ve blogged before about the importance of influence for improving research impact, but influence is one of those things that can be hard to define without using the word itself. Influencing skills are, you know, the skills you use to influence people…
So how do you improve your performance on this hard-to-articulate competency? We’ve come up with a few specific skills that you can build to improve influence:
- Active Listening-understanding problems from the client’s perspective
- Negotiation-disagreeing with a business partner when appropriate
- Persuasion-involving the right stakeholders throughout your work
- Courage-offering a point of view that does not support the status quo
And we have seen a few research departments undertake initiatives to build these skills:
- State Farm and Fiserve developed coaching programs to instill influence skills into researchers’ daily workflow. Question-driven processes allow for guided self-coaching and refinement of influencing skills.
- Wrigley incorporated influence skills into its 360 feedback forms, defining concrete expectations for what it looks like for a researcher to have influence.
Do you think that quantifying influence is possible? Would you use this metric to help the Research department better influence your organization? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.