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How to Close the Influence Skills Gap

Most companies are willing to invest more heavily in their Information Technology (IT) function. And well they should! IT has repeatedly demonstrated that it can have a wondrous effect on a company’s productivity, ability to serve customers, and cost efficiency. A successful IT organization can deliver significant competitive advantages.

Still, many IT professionals, especially those moving into management positions, tend to struggle to interact effectively with others when they are trying to meet their objectives. It’s not technological. It’s personal, or more accurately, interpersonal. The result is that businesses realize far less value than they should from their IT investments.

Situation Management Systems, Inc. (SMS) can help alleviate communication and influence challenges many IT professionals experience, by teaching them valuable and effective Influencing Skills.

Influence Skills for IT Professionals

Increasingly, IT professionals are expected to function as “business partners” who work with managers and users to cost-effectively solve mission-critical business problems. Yet, there is substantial feedback which suggests that a majority of IT professionals find it challenging to effectively engage their colleagues.

On the other hand, IT pros have frustrations of their own. Managers and users rarely grasp just how much goes into devising, delivering, or customizing IT solutions. Further, IT works in an arena that tends to trumpet breakthroughs well ahead of their practical arrival, constantly cultivating premature expectations among user groups. Without question, these high expectations cause many business people, who often lack adequate IT knowledge, to be less patient with their IT colleagues.

Our point is simply this: Even as Information Technology transforms how we do business today, the IT department often consists of personalities with, let’s say, distinctive behavioral characteristics. It’s a function that seemingly has difficulty to channel its genius into the business mainstream. While people tend to respect IT’s expertise, they often question IT’s ability to empathize with their situation, to adhere to business norms, and to make technology solutions easily accessible and applicable.

This interpersonal disconnect between IT and the rest of the company is not beneficial for the bottom line of any business. When IT pros struggle to interact with the rest of the business groups, the company experiences misunderstandings, errors, rework, and delays. IT projects get bogged down by non-technological issues, and the company receives far less value from IT than it would were IT better equipped at connecting and communicating on the interpersonal level.

In order for IT professionals to build the necessary skill set to become more effective communicators and influencers, they need to learn SMS’ renowned behavioral Model that is simple to implement, yet it can help manage highly complex situations.

Attend the POSITIVE POWER AND INFLUENCE® Program

Ready to close the influence skills gap in IT? We have the answer. It’s ready. It’s proven.

By attending the POSITIVE POWER AND INFLUENCE® Program, IT professionals learn how to effectively influence across the various business groups in an organization. They will also learn how to apply effective influence strategies in order to manage interpersonal conflicts, meet their objectives, and maintain productive relationships.

Here are four specific benefits IT professionals will reap from attending the program:

Benefit 1: Equilibrate Objectives and Relationships

The essence of this benefit is to successfully create balance. There needs to be a balance between achieving objectives and taking care of relationships. Based on Neuroscience research, this can be extremely challenging given the way our brains are wired. We have two different neural networks directly involved with influencing; one that focuses on the task, which is called the Task Positive Network (TPN), and one that focuses on relationships, which is called the Default Mode Network (DMN). These networks often do not operate simultaneously, potentially resulting in the loss of productivity and effectiveness. People who favor the TPN, may achieve their influence objectives, but often at the expense of important relationships. Others, who favor the DMN, habitually avoid conflict thereby preserving the relationship, but sometimes at the expense of fulfilling their work goals. Based on the neuroplasticity of the brain, this can be changed through the use of the Situational Influence Model™, which stimulates these two neural networks to get the task done and manage relationships at the same time.

Anyone who works in an organization has two main needs:

  • Meet individual objectives
  • Maintain or build working relationships

Alas, very few business people are consciously aware of the tradeoffs they make each and every day. Many salespeople, for example, habitually forego account profitability to maintain valued customer relationships.

Similarly, the majority of IT professionals pursue their project objectives (e.g., convert the company’s local area network to a new operating system by a specific deadline) with little thought to building or maintaining their working relationships.

To achieve a balance that will help them interact more effectively with the rest of the company, IT pros must learn to more consistently make positive use of personal power and influence.

Benefit 2: Become User-Friendly With Personal Power and Influence

Power is the available personal energy to act on any situation. Personal power is composed of physical, mental, and emotional energy to accomplish tasks, complete work, change the environment, or cause other people to change their behavior.

Influence is applied personal energy, used to act on any situation. It is our energy in use, energy that is visible and can be felt by others.

Influence is behavior. We can assess it, measure it and, most importantly, choose it. Best of all, we can learn to choose wisely.

Benefit 3: Formulate the Requisite Skills Set

The POSITIVE POWER AND INFLUENCE® Program prepares IT professionals to be able to choose from different Influence Styles and become adept at applying the Style most appropriate to each influence situation.

By using the various Influence Styles in relevant and challenging situations, they will improve their ability to first diagnose the influence situation, craft an influence strategy using a diagnostic tool, and then strategically apply the most effective Style to achieve their influence objective(s).

Lastly, they will apply what they have learned to a real-life influence situation using tailored simulation and intensive feedback from peers and training staff.

Benefit 4: Wired to Enhance IT Competitive Advantage

At any given moment, any company and its competitors have access to essentially the same Information Technology. So the technology itself – no matter how wondrous – often provides no discernible competitive advantage. True IT competitive advantage comes from a company’s ability to leverage available technologies faster and more fully than their competitors. That, in essence, is why companies must move first to close the influence skills gap in IT.

The POSITIVE POWER AND INFLUENCE® Program can be conducted in a variety of formats using SMS certified trainers:

  • Face-to-face (1-, 2-, or 3-day programs) – In-house and public programs
  • Virtual – All sessions are conducted online using break-out rooms for practice exercises
  • Blended – A combination of face-to-face and virtual components

The program can be customized to each organization’s unique needs.

Who Uses the POSITIVE POWER AND INFLUENCE® Program?

More than a quarter million managers and professionals, working in the world’s leading organizations, including:

Alstom
Arch Insurance
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Boston Scientific
Colgate-Palmolive
CVS
Fannie Mae
First Interstate Bank
ISO New England
Metro AG
NASA
NIH
Procter & Gamble
Salesforce
Treasury Executive Institute
US FDA
Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
World Bank Group