How to be more influential as an EA

So, you want to be more influential?

When it comes to getting your colleagues to listen to your thoughts and ideas, take your direction or provide support, how you influence is key.  However, influence from an EA role can be difficult to build.

Think about it, how many times have you made a suggestion in a meeting which has fallen on deaf ears, only to have your colleague suggest the same thing five minutes later and be praised for their idea?  Too often, right?

So what are some simple things you can do to build your influence with those in your office?

Understand the personalities at play

When it comes to working with people you need to understand what makes them tick, how they like to interact, and what motivates them.  For example, if you work with highly analytical people  (such as Economists, Scientists, or IT professionals), more often than not, they need detail, numbers, and justification to help them form their position. Whereas if you work with people who are more creative and energetic (such as people who work in communication, marketing or sales), then often they make decisions based on the ‘vibe’ and if the concept you’re proposing is exciting and innovative.

When influencing these different types, your tact needs to adapt to match their preferred method of information consumption.  Our top tip, sit back and observe how they interact with others to get a gauge of their personality.

Communicate with influence

Communication is essential in our role and even more vital when trying to influence others.  Once you understand the personality type you’re working with, then you need to adjust your communication to suit.  Our analytical colleagues may prefer emails with justification and facts, whereas our creatives may prefer to verbally work through the content of your idea and hash it out, or have your concept presented as an infographic.

Our tip: Before you approach a person with an idea or suggestion, think about the presentation of that idea.  Should you invest your time to pull a visual aid together? Do you have enough data to support your approach?

Where’s your imprimatur?

Well, who’s got your back?  When it comes to building influence in a workplace, often it’s our supporters who aid us in the early stages.  Having strong and trusted relationships is vital for success in any role and in any organisation. As an EA, you will have built trust and rapport with your executive and over time, this trust and confidence in your ability will be the only backing you need to influence. In the interim though, you need to develop your working circle of people who can support your ideas or at the very least provide feedback.  Start with people with who you have a common ground, maybe your kids play the same sport, maybe you both have dogs, or perhaps you’re both runners.  Whatever the common ground, start there and build upon it. Not only is relationship-building great for helping you build your influence in the workplace, but it’s also adding to your corporate network; and in Canberra,  that’s worth more than its weight in gold.

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