Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's be Influential Instead of Strategic

Blah, blah..strategic

Blah, blah...business partner

Blah, blah...seat at the piece of furniture.

I say shut up!  Change the conversation.  Please!

I will be attending and speaking at two conferences in the next few months, Louisiana SHRM and SHRM National's conference in my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia.

I hope to hear a very different conversation.  I hope I don't hear the word table or seat or any other piece of furniture.

I want to talk about this new era of Human Resources.  The one where we INFLUENCE our organizations.  We, as HR professionals have been in a defensive mode for the entire time I have been in HR.  We defend our tactics, we defend our existence, we defend our budgets.

I believe it's time for a little offense.  As the economy slowly unthaws and talent begins to have more choices, HR will be in the spotlight once again.  I believe we need to start conversation today on how we can retain our top talent, attract new top talent and impact our organizations ROI for talent related expenses.

HR is at a critical juncture to be able to influence how talent is managed in organizations:
Influence: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Doesn't the above definition speak to HR like it was written for us?  What can we do to be more influential?  Here are a few of my ideas:

The end goal of influence should be commitment.  HR can use its influence to gain commitment from managers to stay focused on talent by making sure talent is rewarded, trained and developed for future roles.

According to Gary Yuki, a professor at the University of Albany, you can build commitment in three primary ways.  Inspiration appeal, rational persuasion, and consultation.  According to Yuki:

  • Inspirational Appeal involves making a request or proposal that arouses the recipient’s enthusiasm by appealing to their values, ideals, and aspirations. To use inspirational appeal, do this:
    –Appeal to the person’s ideals and values.
    –Link the request to a clear and appealing vision.
    –Use a dramatic, expressive style of speaking.
    –Use positive, optimistic language.
  • Rational Persuasion involves the use of logic and facts to attain desirable outcomes. To use rational persuasion:
    –Explain the reason for a request or proposal.
    –Explain how the person would benefit from your proposal.
    –Provide evidence that your proposal is feasible.
    –Explain why your proposal is better than competing ones.
    –Explain how problems or concerns would be handled.
  • Consultation seeks the recipient’s participation in planning a strategy, activity, or change for which the person’s support and assistance are desired. To use consultation:
    –Ask for suggestions on how to improve a tentative proposal.
    –State your objective and ask what the recipient can do to help you attain it.
    –Involve the other person in planning how to attain an objective.
    –Respond to the person’s concerns and suggestions

So, instead of the end goal of "being strategic," I believe it's about building influence.  What do you think?  Do you think the conversation needs to change?


Sandrine Bardot said...

Hi Cathy,

An interesting post ! I think HR will become de facto "strategic" when HR will be a real influencer in the organisation.

I like the reference to the 3 types of influence mechanisms by Gary Yuki, would you have a link to one of his articles or books on the topic ?

Thanks !

Unknown said...

Hi Sandrine:

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Here is a web page that contains his info:


I agree on the "de-facto" strategic, but I think you have to have influence first....


Anonymous said...

In total agreement! I unable to influence in my current position. Thus the search for one in which I can influence and make impact to the business success.