Knowing what you want to achieve is crucial to exerting influence successfully, says Karen Middleton
When I started as chief executive at the CSP, one of my priorities was to better position the CSP to exert influence nationally and better support members to influence locally too.
Having been a stakeholder to the CSP, I was very aware of our presence and influence as a trade union nationally. However, I wanted to see whether we could learn from our impact as a trade union and improve our influence in the round.
Since then, we have influenced – and continue to influence – as both a trade union and as a professional body. I think the two functions complement each other well – great employment will improve patient care and outcomes, and a highly respected profession can lead the trade union movement to improve employment terms and conditions.
Stakeholder regard for the CSP has also shot up – we’re now routinely invited in rather than us having to push open the door. This means we can exert our influence on behalf of members and provides you with the opportunity to follow through locally.
On a local level, building relationships is key to influencing and this takes time – something I think clinicians struggle to justify. My mantra is remember what you are trying to achieve and see the influencing – and building relationships – as a means to an end. Always hold the patient in mind – and always have a patient story ready to tell!
You also need substance to your influencing – how your idea can help the other person/organisation achieve their goals; practical examples of where it has worked before; data to support your assertions about clinical outcomes or saving money or other improvements; and clear asks from the other party.
And never, ever forget that whatever you commit to in the conversation or meeting, you must follow-up on.
What an individual brings to that relationship building is critical: how you show up; how you show interest in the other person’s agenda; and how you engage on quite a personal level. Equally, it’s important to know what you want to achieve – even if you don’t go straight in with your declared objective.
- Contact Karen to discuss this or any other issues at email@example.com
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