You may think the most important skill you need as a performance measure practitioner is the mastery of performance measurement techniques. Sure, you do need this foundation. But you need another skill to companion the measurement skill: persuasion.
And I’m not talking about the persuasive power that comes only with positional authority. Most performance measurement practitioners aren’t C-level executives. But anyone can be persuasive: it’s all in the way you interact with people: the people who you want to take measurement more seriously.
Dr Robert Caildini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, offers six strategies to improve your ability to persuade.
The first strategy for persuasion is Reciprocation. Most people feel a strong sense of obligation to give back to people who have given to them. So as a performance measurement leader, focus first on helping your colleagues solve their performance problems, not on getting them to measure.
The second strategy for persuasion is Commitment and Consistency. People tend to post-rationalize their decisions, so once they’ve made a choice, they will usually do what they can to validate that choice. We see this a lot when people choose their own performance measures—they are instantly committed to bringing those measures to life and using them.
The third strategy for persuasion is Social Proof. When we see others embrace specific ideas or behaviours, we are more likely to. The more your colleagues see others successfully measuring and improving performance, the more likely they will too.
The fourth strategy for persuasion is Liking. If we like someone, we’ll listen to them, take their advice and do what they do. Being likable isn’t hard. Respect people, take a genuine interest in who they are, and enquire and invite rather than tell and expect. Be fun, engaging, authentic and helpful.
The fifth strategy for persuasion is Authority. People will do, and have done, the most absurd things because someone they saw as an authority figure told them to. Find a measurement champion in one of your senior leaders, and build your own credibility through small and successful applications of measurement to solve problems.
The sixth strategy for persuasion is Scarcity. If there’s a limit on the availability or access to something, we seem to want it so much more! Make your time precious—only give it to colleagues who have performance problems truly worth solving, and who are prepared to choose measures, to implement these measures and use them to pursue targets and solve those problems.
You’ll become the most persuasive if you practice all these six strategies. But please, do it authentically!
About the author:
Stacey Barr is a specialist in organisational performance measurement, helping corporate planners, improvement officers, business analysts and performance measurement officers confidently facilitate their organisation to create and use meaningful performance measures with lots of buy-in.
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