Trends in the way we work (part 4 of 4)

4.  Influencing as a key skill

If there’s a conclusion from the previous 3 trends, it’s that the days when your job was secure, tightly locked into an org chart, with a clear and stable job description, well, those days are nearly over.

They’re not over if you’re a specialist of some kind, working in a 1,000+ people unit. In those cases, the environment is still reasonably predictable. But in most of the other cases, you’re more or less on your own. The wind of change is blowing harder. Companies are relocating entire production facilities 10,000 miles away. They’re outsourcing what used to be core functions, they’re selling what used to be core businesses. Some companies are splitting up and letting people go, others are merging using Jack Welch’s famous equation in mergers: 1+1 = 1 (which means one GM here, one GM there, one will stay and one will do something else). Some jobs are disappearing and people are offered an alternative that is not always very appealing.

Who will be your promoter, your lawyer, the one who makes sure you get a good deal or a good project or not the worst office? It has got to be you. This is if you’re an employee, at any level. If you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, then all this comes without saying.

Influencing skills have become very important and they will, most likely, only grow in importance. You need to know how to stand up for your rights, how to sell an idea to those who report to you so that they do it properly, how to convince the ones whose signature you need. By influencing I don’t mean playing dirty games, I mean purely knowing what to say, how to say it and who to say it to.

When something happens that you don’t like, you can’t just go hide your feelings inside yourself forever or, on the contrary, explode like a volcano. People can’t read your mind. Take your time, breathe, have some water and prepare your case.

The bad news is that everyone’s got to do it. The good news is everyone can do it, at least to a reasonable level. It’s a skill, which means you can learn it and even master it.

***

There are some other trends out there, of course. The key thing is to always be alert, to notice what’s going on and not ignore some signs just because they’re too small. To stay on top, we need to be open to change but clear with what is important to us.

Article written for DoingBusiness.

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