How Influence Works in Organizations
In the first installment of this two-part series, the authors discussed how to understand your organization at a deeper level. In this final post, they explore the types of influence that are present in organizations.
Types of Influence within the Organization
Influence is the capacity to affect the character, development, or behavior of another person, group, or organization. When you consider influence as a process, think about how influence flows within the organization, first from the intraindividual level to dyadic processes to the group process, and finally to organizational processes (Yukl, 2006).
Intraindividual level influence works at the level of an individual’s skill, trait, and psychological level and can significantly influence a situation or person.
Influence also occurs in groups of two, or dyadic processes, and often through the relationship between the leader and the follower. How one views the leader and the follower when influencing each other over time impacts perceptions about these relationships.
These perceptions, in turn, impact the larger group process, effective group relationships, and influences the performance of the entire group.
Finally, at the level of organizational process, key individuals work within the organization to develop leaders who can understand the culture and context, interpret information, negotiate, and manage and influence relationships.
One important point to remember in the dyadic process: both the leader and the team member influence each other and tend to do so simultaneously. Often, this synchronicity results in one of three outcomes for the team member: compliance, commitment, or resistance (Yukl, 2006). Compliance outcomes typically result in achievement but with some loss of motivation and job satisfaction. The preferred Commitment outcomes is what organizational leaders seek due to increasing motivational levels, increasing job satisfaction levels, and increasing potential for team member retention. Resistance outcomes are the least desirable as they often result in failure to achieve success outcomes, include loss of motivation and job satisfaction, and may also include job abandonment.
9 Influence Tactics and How They’re Used
People in organizations influence each other in nine different ways.
Ingratiation: using compliments, showing empathy, being sensitive to moods
Rational Persuasion: reasoning, explaining, showing evidence, and facts/benefits
Personal Appeals: asking for favors, explaining the benefits, and leveraging friendships
Pressure: persistent requests, reminders, asking for dates of completion
Legitimizing: leveraging authority, policies, and rules
Inspirational Appeals: expressive style of speaking, appealing to ideas and values
Consultation: asking for suggestions, asking for help, involving people
Exchange: offering to share benefits and offering incentives
Coalition: bringing someone along to help you in an influence attempt, and getting other people to provide evidence and support
The influence tactics most managers use first include ingratiation, consultation, rational persuasion, and exchange. When those fail, most managers will use pressure. Employees, on the other hand, use ingratiation and coalition tactics.
Understanding the process of influence within organizational structures and between individuals in that organization, as well as the influence tactics applied by those individuals provides you with a set of tools to advance your work within organizations and provides a foundation for future study as well as launch point for further discussion.
Baack, D., Reilly, M., & Minnick, C., & (2014). The five functions of effective management (2nd ed). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations (6th ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.