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Building Influence

Struggling to Get Your Projects Approved? Here’s How Building Influence Can Help!

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” – Scott Belsky


We always hear about how projects often get the thumbs down. Usually for two main reasons: management being conservative and budget constraints. But when we further investigated, we realized the company could really use the solution, and the folks we spoke to agreed with us. IT Service Management focuses on how IT services are delivered, keeping the customer’s needs in mind. In this situation, what good is IT Service Management when projects are stuck as ideas. We’ll explore the topic of influence, how it makes ideas happen, and ways to build influence within the company.

If you’re unfamiliar with IT Service Management, read our post on Demystifying ITIL: A Comprehensive Guide. It’s the leading framework on how IT services should be delivered within the organization. 

What is Influence and Why is it Important?

We begin by understanding influence. It’s also referred to as political capital. Influence represents the ability of a person to affect the decision-making within the company. Essentially, by building relationships, credibility, and trust, you’re able to gain support for ideas, projects, or initiatives. Here are the reasons why we influence is key in the workplace:

Resource Allocation

Resources, whether in terms of finances or manpower, will always be limited, leading to a cap on the number of projects feasible in a given year. Having influence enhances the likelihood of receiving backing from crucial decision-makers, improving the odds of securing the required budget for IT projects and initiatives. While immediate approval is not guaranteed, having influence ensures that your input is acknowledged and considered.

Influence in Strategy

While on a macro point of view , influencing the overall strategy can be of greater significance in the long term. While individual projects may bring specific benefits, well-aligned projects can lead to competitive advantages for the organization. Especially with today’s competitive landscape, strategic technology gains can make or break the company.

End-User Buy-In

Finally, obtaining budget approval is critical, but equally as important is ensuring successful adoption. If a project or tool doesn’t kick off well, problems like user resistance can quickly escalate. We’ve seen it countless times which resulted in delays and end-users negatively influencing others to reject the change. These minor annoyances get amplified, especially when people are resistant to change, particularly if it brings them out of their comfort zones. If individuals believe in your initiatives, they’ll be more patience and dedicated. These are essential for smoother adjustments, ensuring the likelihood of success of the project.

How do you build influence?

Now that we recognize the significance of influence, let’s explore ways to establish and cultivate influence within the organization:

Start Small

Begin with small initiatives, especially if you’re new or without any accomplishments within the company, as smaller projects pose less risk. When suggesting these smaller projects, ensure they lead to perceived successes. The emphasis here is on perceived wins, not just proposing small projects for the sake of their size. The crucial aspect is that these initiatives build your credibility to propose and execute larger projects in the future. Additionally, carefully assess the associated risks; they shouldn’t be excessively high, as failures may make it more challenging to propose new projects later on.

Support Initiatives Beyond Your Main Job

Help with initiatives outside your designated job description. By backing projects that aren’t necessarily yours, your colleagues can observe your work-ethic, understand your problem-solving skills, and witness your people management skills. If the project succeeds, you can get recognized with its success, increasing your credibility without the full liability of a failed project if it fails.

Having Meaningful Relationships with People You Work With

An essential part of your work is the relationships you build with your colleagues. Foster friendships because true friends wish the success of their friends. It goes beyond mere hellos; forming connections stretches beyond the office walls. Taking time for coffee runs or spending time together makes a meaningful relationship. When asking for professional help, your colleagues will be more than willing. However, it’s crucial to reciprocate when they need help. It should be mutual.

Project Metrics Should be Quantifiable

Quantitative metrics are often considered more effective than qualitative metrics for measuring projects because they provide clear, measurable data. Quantitative metrics offer specific and objective insights, making it easier to analyze and compare performance. Added to that, it creates accountability and alignment for everyone involved within the project. It also makes it easier to communicate the benefits of the project with its numerical outcomes.

Added to that, the Finance department is usually the one that approves of projects. If they are informed of the quantifiable benefits before and after the project, it will be easier to justify projects moving forward.

Build Authority

Establishing authority is crucial. While certifications provide a glimpse of qualifications, combining them with practical experience enhances credibility. Explore diverse certifications like Comptia to strengthen your profile. So when you talk to decision-makers, they know they can trust your opinion and the recommendations you make. 

Outside certifications, educate people within the company by sharing your knowledge and expertise.. Keep in mind that genuine education goes beyond just talking; it’s about effectively conveying messages and values across. Also, think about how you portray yourself with your clothing and behavior at work. For instance, wearing a white coat can subliminally make people perceive you as a doctor. Make sure your attire is appropriate for the occasion. 

Social Proof

Lastly, examine what other companies similar to yours. Carefully assess whether their practices could be applicable to your organization. If they are, you can propose the project, ensuring that your company can genuinely benefit from the tool or solution. Make sure timing is appropriate – there’s a real need for the tool or solution. Keep in mind, management frequently uses other companies as a benchmark for decision-making.

An idea is just 10%, the remaining 90% is execution.

Projects don’t have to necessarily get a thumbs-down. Now, you understand the importance of influence and how it can shape the way you work. Make sure to also equally prioritize building influence at work. With the right tools, you can enhance the chances of your project getting approved.

Just some final thoughts, if your projects are often rejected, find out why. Do not lose motivation; it’s not the end of the world. Learn and understand the thought process behind the decision. This will help refine the way you propose projects moving forward. Often, these rejections, combined with the refinement process, eventually lead to the ultimate acceptance.

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