All the different things we do to influence change at work can seem convoluted. But when you break it down, there are only three paths for driving change from the current state to the future state. The following ways to influence must happen concurrently to get real results.
Path 1: Create Conditions that Influence Change
We need to create the conditions which allow, enable, and encourage people to change. I call this “structural” influence because these are the structures we put in place in the organization to drive change, such as communication, training, incentives, and other programs typically associated with change management. Structural influence helps people successfully navigate change.
Path 2: Influence Change Yourself
Building structural influence alone won’t work. You’ll still need to get personally involved to influence change. Have conversations to understand people’s experience of the change, gain commitment, and provide feedback. Facilitate meetings to improve collaboration, overcome organizational barriers, and achieve results together. Applying your personal influence includes building relationships, and supporting and encouraging people during change.
Path 3: Influence Change Through Others
We also need to rely on the influence of other people to perpetuate change, especially those who have authority in the organization. To that end, we need to recruit advocates and sponsors and equip them to lead change. Define roles and relationships to create a web of influence across the organization. Gain others’ commitment to support and drive the change in their own span of influence.
Note that the three paths are not totally independent of each other. You’ll need to personally influence people to use their leadership on behalf of the initiative, and also provide structural influence methods (like communication, training) to enable them to lead. To build structural influence programs that work will take personal influence and leadership from others.
As you influence change in your organization, make sure you are leveraging all three paths at the same time. Create the conditions that influence change, influence change yourself, and recruit others to influence on your behalf.
Want a deeper dive into these three paths? Join me at an upcoming Fundamentals of Influencing Change at Work course to learn practical tools and skills to apply these different forms of influence. Visit the Events page for a schedule of both online and in person options.