Professional courage and influence - Lesson 5: your reflections


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CIPD Staff

17 Jan, 2020 10:42

Welcome to the online community learning space for the lesson: Engage your audience. Use this forum to discuss the community reflective activity in the lesson. Read the contributions of others, ‘liking’ those you find helpful and add your unique reflections to the conversation by replying to this post. Click here to return to the lesson page at any time.

Community reflective activity:
When committing to action, some people value data, some inspiration, some direction, and others relationships. Some may need a combination of these.
What an individual needs varies according to the situation and issue. 
Give an example where you had to flex your approach to engage different audiences on the same topic?  

  • In situations where I've had so many different types of "learners" in a group where it was vital they retain information I took the time to engage support and help from a team of like minded champions to create a presentation/email/or report which speak to all these different needs and values so everyone can walk away from the information feeling like it speaks to them. Taking the time to make sure you're reaching your audience effectively will help you advocate in creating the actions and change you want to implement. I think it's important to flex and involve outside input over working in a silo as the outside help usually opens up your thinking. However I'd love to hear if people find it easier to work alone in these situations and still deliver information that reaches everyone? The pros and negatives of working alone to deliver?

  • In reply to Allison:

    Others preferences and styles are difficult to predict and the only way to engage that range is to vary your tone and pitch; bring in a range of reflective, discussion-based and participative methods and read the room. I find specifically naming why you're alternating can help people really see the vibe you're trying to create and they might just respect that a little more as it's clearer what you're trying to do for that range of styles.
  • In reply to Perry:

    On a recent project (to get buy in) it was helpful to reflect on Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion. Interestingly noticing any potential opportunities that I hadn’t considered. So it’s given me a framework, confirmed my approach as well as prompting more ideas…

    BTW – the 2 vids in the Curated content were really helpful..

    Reciprocity – good call, hadn’t thought of this one. Think sharing my outcomes with all the stakeholders that I have spoken to could be helpful.
    Scarcity – this is helpful to focus on because a lack of (resources) gives the project its purpose.
    Authority – this one needs work.
    Consistency – think I did well on this one because I made sure I spoke to all relevant stakeholders.
    Liking – confident this one is OK. Challenging to think about it though.
    Consensus – I asked people to priorities resources so I think this one is covered.
  • I've recently been in a stakeholder meeting discussing whether a particular activity should continue. I've had some who are accepting of continuing but others are very grounded in their own view due to the impact on them directly rather than those who require the acitvity to continue. In these occassions i've been thinking what is the thing that is stopping that person committing - where in this case, it was they didn't see the point of an activity besides it was more work for their team. Story telling around what could be the negatives and highlighting risks appealed to this person. It was also important to provide opportunity to ask questions and let them air their views so I could see if there was a half way point or a way we could work better but still with the end user in mind. I also think the 6 pinciples of persuasion are great and i'll be keeping these in mind in the future!
  • Not everyone that does the same job has the same personality. However, as a facilitator I try to find a warm starting point with a group. Typically I find that business development people focus more on outcomes and what will work rather than on the detail, research and methodology. And often when working with scientists I've found it to be the other way round. One thing for sure is that in order to be able to flex your approach you need to have an idea about what your typical default approach is and then adapt accordingly, so building self-awareness is really important. The other must do is to put the majority of you effort into listening and understanding. Again its about putting the person you are working with at the centre of your world. Useful resources: Social styles theory for understanding others and 16PF or other multi-trait instrument for raising self awareness
  • The most recent was updating the team on a sucesfull hire for a vacant role. Members of the team respond well to different approaches so I had to update and bring people in accordingly. As we are a small team there is also a mentality that everyone should be involved with everything which I am trying to move away from!
  • The OD scenario made me smile, having just been through moving everyone to MS Teams as the company's default communication tool. Too late to stop the IT department's decision to simply email everyone that they must use it from now on, meant some quick work to engage more positively with everyone and get their buy-in.
  • Keeping target audience in mind and delivering the communication has a meaningful impact 

    • Last year we introduced "Competency Based Appraisal System" and a meeting conducted for managers and their subordinates who are team leaders. When questions are pouring around What's in it for me (WIIFM), I quickly realized their perceptions and modulated my delivery to suit their questions while managing communication to be passed to them through my presentation. 
  • The key question to ask is this "Is there anything I need to know about people in the audience in order to make the session more accessible and useful to them?". When I have asked this question I have had the following answers.....
    There is someone with Asperger syndrome
    Someone has Dyslexia
    One of the audience has hearing issues
    There is someone who is colourblind

    Clearly these are big issues that require a high degree of flexibility. So its about talking to the individual directly and asking them "what do you want me to do to make it a useful day for you". Whenever I have done this the individual has felt included and has been extremely thankful. I can't help feel that they left with a very positive opinion of our profession.
  • Whilst some stakeholders do vary from project to project, I have found in my experience that some are persuaded by the same techniques time after time & revisiting a previous approach will often work for the individual - I can recall one stakeholder in particular was always heavily influenced by their peers’ take on an idea & provided they were on board, it was often enough to share that to get them on board too

    When presenting to multiple stakeholders, I feel that wherever possible, planning to incorporate as many techniques as possible works provided you can weave them well enough into your narrative to not make them appear contrived
  • In the past I have had to communicate a change in the ways of working to the department which would initially create more work due to the need to learn new processes. I knew this would be a welcome change to some because it provided them with more ownership, but not well received by others because of their development need. I was aware that I needed to be considerate and understanding to the anxieties of the team. I chose to remain positive whilst giving them the opportunity to air their concerns and highlighted the long term benefits to the team as a whole whilst providing ways of mitigating initial concerns. Being able to anticipate the questions that would be raised and having preempted these meant I was able to influence the positive aspects of the change to those with reservations
  • When I had to launch a new onboarding manual, I was presenting to people who had never met me and whom I had never met. In building the presentation I had to consider that my audience might be a range of personalities, attention spans, interest etc. By keeping the slides simple, I allowed myself to deliver the content in a flexible way, reading the room and relying and pre-prepared 'rescue' elements, which were either anecdotes, data, questions or personal experiences. I would soon get an understanding of who wanted to engage with me, who wanted to discuss with the group and who wanted to listen and digest. It was then a balancing act of delivering the parts of the content which had to be said, and allowing fluid natural discussion which lead to the group organically agreeing on common problems, to which I would then (hopefully!) have a solution.