MY VIEW - The importance of influencing

Monday 2 December 2019

Influence executive officers on the relevance of protective controls.

As a panel member on how to effectively exert influence within the workplace, at the ALARM Scotland Conference, I was struck by the relevance of the topic to risk, insurance and assurance professionals, engaged in protective services, such as blue light services and emergency planning.

The public sector continues to face real challenges around funding and demographic change. This requiries sector organisations to adapt and consider even more carefully how they allocate resources and prioritise areas of work, many which previously were a given within public services.

At a time when there is a squeeze on finances it is tempting for executive officers to concentrate solely on delivery of statutory functions. They may also consider others suitable for reduction or even removal of service.

Protective controls

In such times it is more challenging to successfully maintain protective controls within an organisation, as they are potentially swept aside as being ‘currently unaffordable’.

Readers will realise the short-term nature of such approaches and the potential for increased expenditure in the absence of controls. It still challenges us as professionals to make our case in a way which promotes the benefit of risk controls.

Below are some of my top tips for ways to influence successfully from within your respective organisations. (These are gleaned from discussions at the ALARM Scotland Conference and subsequent research).

Influencing top tips

  • Build trust. Be open and honest. State opinions, voice apprehensions and don’t hide secrets.
  • Have a positive personal attitude. Be excited about what you are sharing and avoid doom and gloom.
  • Align yourself with influential allies. Executive officers and elected members are useful. Invest time with them so they understand your perspective.
  • Understand it is going to be tough. Be tough! Nothing worth fighting for is won easily.
  • Be assertive but don’t be aggressive. It’s the only way to get noticed among competing demands.
  • Be consistent and reliable. Consistency is vital for building influence. Don’t be seen as unpredictable.
  • Be flexible. Inflexibility may come across as dogmatism. It’s a turn off for executive officers who have many pressures and competing demands.
  • Finally, and most importantly, listen to other points of view. Include peoples’ ideas in your messages. It adds feelings of worth in others and shows a team approach. It also provides access to valuable information you may not have been privy to when formulating your own ideas.

Graeme MacKenzie, Community Safety and Resilience Service Manager, Dundee City Council and ALARM Board Director

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