Influencers are people within an organisation who's views are respected and trusted by those around them and are often turned to for advice and guidance on internal matters. They come about naturally and informally and are often beyond the realm of the formal organisational structure or hierarchy.
Tapping the power of hidden influencers
Employee resistance is the most common reason executives cite for the failure of big organizational-change efforts. Winning over skeptical employees and convincing them of the need to change just isn’t possible through mass e-mails. Rather, companies need to develop strong change leaders employees know and respect—in other words, people with informal influence.
Finding these employees is relatively easy using snowball sampling. Companies can construct simple, anonymous e-mail surveys to ask, for example: “Whose advice do you trust and respect?” executives can quickly identify a revealing set of influencers across a company when the names start to be repeated.
The results are often surprising. We’ve found that influencer patterns almost never follow the organizational chart. Informal influencers exist at all levels of a company and aren’t easily identified or predicted by role or tenure. Moreover, we find that even when company leaders believe they know who the influencers will be, they are almost always wrong.
Armed with a better sense of how influence operates, senior executives can begin applying that knowledge in useful ways. For example, they can encourage influencers to help communicate necessary changes, convince skeptical employees of the need for change, or, best of all, do these things as active architects of the program. Changes made with the support of these influential employees are vastly more likely to succeed in the long run.
Credit: The full and original article was published on McKinsey
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