Influence is important when working in any organisation. What is influence with your business partners? Influence is to guide or assist your business partner in decision making. It is not the ability to pull the wool over their eyes or have them take your position versus a better outcome for the business.
Influence comes with trust!
When you start a new role or with a new company, ask to have a seat at the table. Let them know that nearly everything affects finance and you want to be in the know with the area you are supporting so there are no surprises. You even can tell them upfront that you may not have much to add in the beginning as you are learning the business but if you feel something is important you will bring it up.
Deep listening is the first process you need to be able to influence. Not only do you need to hear what is being said, but you also need to understand what isn’t being said. Get curious, ask questions. I cannot tell you how many questions I have asked that made people at the table chuckle because for them it was obvious but for me it helps connect the dots. Your business partners will appreciate this as true business partners understand that building influence comes with trust, trust comes from interaction.
Building trust and influence occurs when you deliver what you say you’re going to deliver along with delivering results for questions not yet asked. When you put together a financial exhibit or document, ask yourself, what is this telling the business? How is this helping the business? What do I want this exhibit to articulate in words?
Your actions will build influence much faster and with greater depth than just words. Using words to try and build influence is useless, as some say talk is cheap. As you consistently deliver results and can communicate the business impact, you will build influence.
Once this influence is built, you can use it when you are sitting at the table you asked to join. Being able to help the team understand financial impacts of actions prior to acting will build trust across the team and organisation. Your business partner knowing an approximate outcome before implementing a decision gives them the ability to not be surprised and feel confident.
Influence is key to helping your grow in an organisation because the business needs partners not just people who generate data. Being curious, asking questions, and deep listening will help you speed up the influence timeframe and remember influence = trust.