Relationships and the Ability to Influence

12 April 2022

How do you take care of your important business relationships?

Research shows that six critical elements determine the success of your relationships. And these apply equally to personal and business relationships.

There are the obvious; respect, trust, commitment to each other, whether or not there’s mutual care and dialogue. However, in my experience, the sixth element can be the game-changer; each person or party’s ability to have influence in the relationship.

For staff

From a business point of view, you may be able to relate to the experience of staff and management working well together on the other five elements, but still, find something is missing in the culture. If there is a feeling by your teams that management isn’t providing opportunities for involvement, then the other elements can be negatively affected. Respect and trust can wane and mutual support disappears from the conversations. Involving your employees can help with this. But doing so and then not taking action on the feedback they give you, will also undermine relationships.

For your community

Ensuring that people have the ability to influence some aspects of projects or activities is important for organisations. Truly valuing your community as an asset is informative as you seek community engagement or support. When done well, sharing this ability to influence or open up to new ideas helps develop trust, build relationships and reputation.

So, how can you provide opportunities to influence in your organisation?

Community engagement

The field of community or stakeholder engagement provides frameworks to guide you. It’s a well-established practice that can be used for small, in-house discussions, right through to managing major projects that may be under scrutiny because of community resistance or outrage.

A core feature is being clear on what those people you are engaging have the ability to influence. Will you listen to the thoughts and values of interested people and get back to them to explain how their input shaped your final plans or decision(s)?

Or will you hand decision-making over to those you are collaborating with, promising to let the group design the final solution?

There are several community engagement frameworks. One that is now widely used was developed by the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2)*. It details the goal of getting your stakeholders involved and the promise about the degree of influence their input will have.

If your organisation values the ideas your stakeholders have for your organisation and is looking to build relationships, either internally, or with community, get in touch. We can support you to plan and deliver community engagement.

*The IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation is (c) International Association for Public Participation