There is no gainsaying the fact wielding influence in the workplace is one of the biggest tools of office politics. It has pros and cons. Pros: it can aid your career growth and within short period of time, you may rise through the career ladder. The cons include placing you at a risk of jealousy among co-workers. People that try to stamp their influence in the workplace also stand the risk of trying too hard to impress and it can backfire. While influence appears to be more of personality thing – some people are born leaders, some are just not cut out for it – it can be built. This essay discusses tips to becoming an influential employee in your workplace.
- Perform, perform and perform: You can still be influential without being a high performer, but the influence may not take you far. So the easiest way to becoming an influential figure in the workplace is consistent high performance. Do your work diligently, meet targets, turn in reports before deadline. When people know you for these qualities, they tend to respect you. When co-workers respect you, that’s a sure-fire way to becoming influential.
- Assist others: Be willing to help others. When a new joiner is recruited to your department or someone is posted from another department, be willing to offer assistance in making sure the new guy seamlessly boards. Always share your knowledge, bail out that your struggling colleague. When you’re known for always willing to assist, you command respect, and ultimately influence, among your colleagues.
- Be friendly to everyone: The easiest way to creating enemies for yourself in the workplace is forming superiority, what the Yoruba people call alakori. You see, it actually costs you nothing to be the first to greet that guy in the elevator even if you’re far above him in the corporate hierarchy. From the gateman to the GM, cultivate the habit of being friendly to everyone. Having a sense of humour also helps in this regard.
- Volunteer in company activities: Don’t think the world starts and ends on your JD. No, taking part in other corporate activities that have nothing to do with your primary role is a fast way to growing your clout in your workplace. Volunteer to be part of a project implementation team, your department’s safety officer, sports day committee, end of the year party committee, contributing to company internal publications, etc. Take active part, but never to the detriment of your primary role. Another advantage of this is that you get to be easily noticed by top management, who are the key decision makers. You should not overdo this though, else you stand the risk of being labeled “Notice Me” like one guy in one of my former places of work.
- Be friend to the HR: Let’s face it: being friend to the HR Manager and officers has many advantages and it is part of office politics. HR people make the most of the corporate decisions and you never know when some decisions will be favourable to you. It doesn’t have to be close friendship, just some informality.
- Be passionate about your company: For many employees, the relationship between them and their work end after they shut down their system by 5 o’clock. To become influential in your company, you need to be passionate about your company – use your company stickers, patronize their products, defend them without taking up the job of their corporate communications department. I have a friend that, though a Finance person, is always seizing every opportunity to market his company’s products to my family even in casual discussions. That is not part of his job, in fact, his company is a multinational FMCG with already well known products that hardly need private advertising, but out of my friend’s passion for this company, he goes the extra mile of marketing their products to me. I know someone that almost denied me entrance into his official car because I turned down job offer from his company, and this is very close person, and he doesn’t own the company. That’s how passionate some people are about their company.
- Make meaningful contributions in meetings: If you’re not the one chairing a meeting, don’t outdo the chairman or even your superiors present, but be known for chipping in highly thoughtful contributions in meetings, whether company-wide, departmental or cross-functional team meetings. This you achieve by preparing well for meetings. Don’t forget the rule of meetings though, like never make your boss look stupid, or never talk for talking sake. When you’re known for thoughtful contributions in meetings and even town-halls, you’re on your way to becoming influential in your workplace.