Appropriate influence over the attitudes and behaviors of your employees is the heart of good, strong management. It is impossible to be an effective manager without influencing your employees. As a manager you do influence your employees "for better or worse." The type of influence you use can make or break yours and your company's success.
Five basic types of influence managers use are listed below. Which ones do you use to influence your employees?
Authoritarian. Employees generally accept the fact that bosses have a right to make requests and assign work. Having the authority to issue orders though doesn't give a boss the right to make arrogant demands. All too often bosses use their authority to be "little dictators." If you want to be effective in exercising your authority, do it by making polite requests. Legitimate requests should be as clear and simple as possible. Using your authority to influence employees is sometimes necessary, but it doesn't have to be abrasive. Mutual respect is your goal.
Rewarding. Often rewards are used to influence others. When you were a little kid, you probably got lots of messages such as, "act good and you will get a treat," Most of us have been programmed to expect rewards. This may be appropriate for some work tasks, but there are major drawbacks in using rewards to influence. Often employees will do no more than just what it takes to get the reward. It can also make employees expect a reward for every little thing they do.
When using rewards it is best to give the reward not as a bribe for doing something, but as a reinforcement, after the goal is completed. Remember rewards are not just tangible items, such as money or gifts, but praise and recognition too. Rewards can be used to positively influence employees, but a better way is to develop loyalty and team spirit among employees.
Persuade by credibility. To accumulate credibility a manager needs to create an image of experience and competence. A manager who is well informed, calm, confident, and fair has the credibility to persuade others. The respect this type of manager draws from employees allows them to influence positively.
Call upon loyalty. Often managers influence employees by calling upon their loyalty to their company. Managers develop loyalty in employees over time when they show concern, treat them fairly, and stand by them. When calling upon loyalty to influence an employee, keep in mind, that there are limits to what you should ask in the name of loyalty.
Remember, it is best not to call upon the issue of loyalty too often. If requests are unreasonable or made too often they decrease in effectiveness.
Role modeling. One of the very best ways to positively influence employees is to be their role model. You should set an example by behaving the way you want and expect your employees to. You can influence others positively or negatively without even making explicit requests.
Each way of influencing has it pluses and minuses. Each can be used to influence positively or negatively. Some ways can be more effective than others. But singling one out to use all the time would be a mistake. To be an effective manager you will want to employ all five ways. Being able to use the right one at the right time to influence positively shows effective management skill.
Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.