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5 Essential Tools to Expand Your Influence

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At the beginning of the year, Stacey Pezold, Paycom’s COO, encouraged us all to innovate. In addition to having an idea, she said that, in order to innovate, you have to:

  • get your mind in the right place, which is intent, and
  • ensure your heart is ready and open for change, which is inspiration.

But above all, you must have influence. This means that before people buy into an idea, they must first buy into the person. This makes influence such a critical component to becoming an innovator.

You might say, “But Jim, I’ve only been in my position for a few months. I can’t possibly have any influence.” Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what position you’re in or whether you’ve been here ten years or ten days. You can start being influential today if you use these five tools.

Tool One: Create the environment.

I was asked to coach sixth-grade basketball at my son’s school. However, this particular coaching job came with one stipulation: In addition to coaching the A team, made up of extremely athletic individuals, I would also have to coach the B team, the “Bad News Bears.” They played in fourth and fifth grade and had zero wins and 18 losses. They had two years of futility, but I was up for the challenge.

From the beginning, I set the same standard for both teams: At the end of this, both teams would walk away champions. I had no idea if we could do it or not, but I wanted all of the kids to hear that they could.

We started practice together with all 25 kids working the same drills. The top group we called Thunder and the new group we called Lightning. The Lightning would fall behind in team offense, so we incorporated a few Thunder players into the mix. Sure enough, the Lightning started picking up the pace. They learned how to move, how to cut, how to pass.

The first game of the season rolled around and the Lightning won! It was pandemonium in the stands. But the good news doesn’t end there; these boys ended up taking the championship title for their league.

What’s my point? We’re talking about influence and the Lightning team was positively influenced by the more experienced Thunder team. The Lightning witnessed the Thunder’s work ethic and practice habits. Eventually, they started doing the same thing. They started thinking, “maybe I can be a champion too.” Why? Because they were inspired and influenced to do it.

So my question for you is this: When people interact with you are they influenced to be better? Or like the B team, are they inspired to take their game to the next level?

Create the environment.

Tool Two: Understand the power of the written word.

In this digital age, it is uncommon to receive a handwritten note from someone. Its rarity is what makes the written word so powerful. College football recruiters keep this tool in their toolkit, and when they really want to make an impression on an athlete, the sit down and write a note by hand.

A handwritten letter is personal and unexpected; it shows respect, and it insinuates that someone put in the extra effort. Make an impact by sending a handwritten note. Customize your message and increase your influence.

Tool Three: Create your personal brand.

Just like companies have brands, we all have our own unique personal brands. What association do people make when they hear your name? Are you the person who makes people say, “Oh, Jim, he’s a good guy to have on your team, but you want to keep your distance on Monday mornings.” Influence depends a great deal on how people perceive you, so it is important that you make a conscious effort to cultivate a positive personal brand.  What do you want people to think about you?

Tool Four: Recognize that little things matter.

Don’t overlook the value of human contact. Tell people “good morning” when they walk into work.  Call people by name. Remember, the sweetest music to a person’s ears is the sound of his or her name. Recognize that the little things matter and you will make a greater impact.

Tool Five: Be a great listener.

When you become a great listener, you’ll notice that several things start happening. People want to talk to you.  They get to know more about you and they might even start asking you for advice. When people begin confiding in you, your influence starts to grow. You can make a lot of progress in terms of expanding your influence by becoming a great listener.


Jim Quillen

by Jim Quillen


Author Bio: As director of business intelligence at Paycom, Jim Quillen is responsible for a team of analysts, survey professionals and product strategists who handle reporting, analysis, client feedback and internal product development. Quillen, a CPA by training, has worked in many fields during his career, including finance, auditing, recruiting, sales, business development and software implementation. Prior to his current role, Quillen has served Paycom as the director of new client implementation and director of recruiting.

Performance Review

3 Mistakes Managers Make During Performance Reviews (And How to Fix Them)

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3 Mistakes Managers Make During Performance Reviews (And How to Fix Them)

Are you and your employees prepared for their annual performance reviews? While every organization approaches performance reviews differently, one commonality remains the same: Performance reviews are an important part of the employer’s role.

The approach your managers take to this conversation will set the tone for employees’ performance and engagement. Here are three mistakes – and pro-tips on how to avoid them – you might consider sharing with your managers as they prepare to give performance reviews:

1. Failing to Plan vs. Creating an Agenda

Not giving structure or guidelines at the beginning of the review will leave the employee confused, stressed and possibly feeling like a failure. Your managers could then just wing it, which could send a signal to the employee that the performance review isn’t serious. In addition, an unstructured review leads to missed opportunities to set expectations, set goals and discuss missed goals.

Instead, give the employee an outline of how the performance review will be conducted, share the review format and ensure he or she understands the expectation of their self-evaluation. Without expectation, the employee is less likely to succeed, but with clear direction and communication, the employee has a better chance of higher performance.

2. Avoiding the Issue vs. Following Up

Managers are busy with meetings, have looming deadlines, and juggle multiple projects and employees. Taking extra time to document every performance gap and identify areas of improvement for immediate correction interrupts the daily hustle. So while it may seem easier to wait a week and postpone communication until the performance review, putting off the much-needed conversation can leave issues unresolved, and cause situations to go from bad to worse.

 To avoid this, encourage your managers to follow up with their employees immediately when correction is needed. The employee should never hear about an ongoing issue for the first time during his or her review. Also, employees shouldn’t be evaluated just on their most recent performance. Ask your managers to have weekly, bi-weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings to formally discuss areas of strength and those that need improvement. 

3. Only Discussing the Failures vs. Providing Positive Praise

What happens when the conversation starts off on the wrong foot or takes a wrong turn? Your managers came prepared, but only brought a list of missed opportunities (saved from all year). If the manager does all the talking, the communication becomes one-sided, and the employee will not – and cannot – contribute. Now, the manager is left scolding the employee for his or her wrongs. That employee will leave the performance review feeling inadequate and discouraged.

 Instead, coach your managers to open the conversation with praise on the employee’s accomplishments, so that the employee understands the contribution he or she makes doesn’t go unnoticed. Remember, the delivery of a performance review sets the tone of the conversation. Ensure your managers are specific and genuine regarding accomplishments. As a result, the employee will find the review rewarding.

A good performance review should leave the employee inspired to set and meet higher goals and feel appreciated for his or her accomplishments. Remember: have a set agenda, follow up is important, give praise, communicate constructive feedback and set new goals in the next performance review.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Management, What Employees Want

Brad Taylor

by Brad Taylor


Author Bio: As Vice President of Product Management, Brad Taylor currently manages a team dedicated to the continuous improvement of Paycom’s single-application solution and product innovation. In his nearly two decades at Paycom, he previously served in six roles, including Vice President of Client Relations and Vice President of Sales. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Brad is an avid OU football fan and enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

Attitude is Everything

Because Attitude Is Everything, Do These 8 Things

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Because Attitude Is Everything, Do These 8 Things

A simple smile, an act of kindness and showing gratitude go a long way with people, especially in the workplace. It can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with stressful situations and pressing deadlines, but choosing to do so can play a big role in career success and stress reduction.

And attitude – positive or negative – is contagious. A positive one motivates others, reduces stress, increases quality and productivity, creates teamwork and encourages creative thinking. Your team members have more potential to accomplish its goals, develop resiliency and improve psychological prosperity when they work in a positive environment.

Are you taking an active role in creating a positive atmosphere within your workplace? Here are a few ideas to encourage positivity:

  1. Step up.

Tackle the jobs that no one is willing to do. Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas famously credited his success to his MBA, but he wasn’t referring to a graduate degree; he meant his “mop-and-bucket attitude.” In other words, jump in and get the job done. When you help with a project or task that no one else wants to do, you’re immediately seen as a go-getter. The sense of accomplishment you feel once the job is complete could be enough to turn your attitude around and put you on top of the world.

  1. Attitude of gratitude.

Studies show that people who take time to be grateful are typically more successful in life and feel more invigorated throughout their day. Wake up each morning and take a minute to be grateful for one thing. Focus all of your energy on that one thought and allow yourself to feel joy. It might take some time to train your brain, but pay attention to the little things that occur throughout your workday and acknowledge gratefulness for them.

Never underestimate the power of a smile. You’ll not only appear cheerful, but start to feel that way, too. Your body associates the muscle movements in a smile with feelings of happiness. A warm smile adds value and can change one’s outlook on the day. As with attitude, smiles are contagious; they’re the easiest way to share good vibes. Even if you’re having a rough day, force one out. It takes discipline to bounce back after something goes askew, but a smile will release endorphins that can change your emotional outlook, not to mention others’.

  1. Acknowledge success.

It is easy to get caught up in the big picture and lose sight of all the smaller accomplishments that lead to achieving the ultimate goal, so be sure to recognize all the small wins. Acknowledge your peers and superiors for everything they do to help your organization achieve its goals. High-fives and genuine praise go a long way to drive positivity.

  1. Set goals.

Creating goals for yourself can help give you focus and a feeling of accomplishment. With your eye on the prize, goals can help you work harder. I find it helpful to visualize a 10-year plan. Where do you see yourself in a decade? Who do you know? What hobbies do you have? Where are you in your career? Find photos and images online to create a collage of your 10-year plan and keep it at your desk. It will help you stayed focused on achieving your goals.

  1. Do something nice.

Random acts of kindness don’t go unnoticed by others. They could make you feel better and they don’t require a huge effort or cost a lot of money. Give a genuine compliment, take time to listen to a co-worker’s story, bring a friend lunch, write a thank-you note, bring a snack to an employee, help a colleague with a project – the list goes on. Random acts of kindness will not only help brighten your day, but also someone else’s. Repeated kindness could even create a better work environment and improve company culture.

  1. Turn negatives into positives.

Not all bad situations are negatives, as long as you use them as learning opportunities. Life is tough and you will have obstacles to overcome, so use this process to sharpen your skills and become a better employee and person overall.

  1. Get moving.

Stay active during your workday. An active body is a low-stress body. If you have a sedentary job, you may have to take extra steps to ensure you’re getting enough exercise. Instead of picking up the phone or sending an email to a colleague, walk down the hallway and speak to them in person instead. Human interaction will help improve your outlook and mood.

Attitude is like a boomerang: Good or bad, it will always come back to you. The more positivity you project, the more positivity you’ll receive. No matter what the day brings, how you choose to respond holds enormous power in the success or failure of the challenges you face each day. Attitude is everything, so choose positivity!

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Leadership

Stacey Pezold

by Stacey Pezold


Author Bio: Stacey Pezold serves as Paycom’s first Chief Learning Officer. Having joined the company in 2005, she worked her way up to such positions as Regional Manager, Director of Corporate Training, Executive Vice President of Operations and, most recently, Chief Operating Officer. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, she has more than 11 years of leadership and training experience.

Employee Productivity: Here’s What Really Matters

Employee Productivity: Here’s What Really Matters

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Employee Productivity: Here’s What Really Matters

Today’s business leaders are dealing with a lot.

Along with the technology-shaped elephant in the room, the increase in internal business collaboration (50 percent in the past two decades), the change in performance management and the influx of millennials have left many companies scrambling.

Despite these changes, the goals of businesses have remained constant: Generate revenue in the most efficient way possible, and no matter what industry you’re in, the productivity of your employees matters.

The Productivity Constant

However, many businesses struggle to quantify their employee productivity, and for good reason: The shift from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy has forced many leaders to reconsider how they measure and inspire productivity.

However, productivity is still a metric worth considering. As with any difficult task, a step-by-step methodology is typically the best place to start.

  1. Define what employee productivity means to your business, and determine the metrics you want to use to measure it.
  2. Test and retest productivity efforts on your workforce until you figure out what works.
  3. Learn from your failures, and repeat your successes.

 

Let’s take a deeper dive into these steps.

Defining and Measuring Productivity

Every business is different; therefore, how businesses measure productivity should vary. Working with team leaders to identify what it actually looks like in your business is the first step to increasing it.

Keep in mind, definitions can be deceivingly thorny, so much so that HR and business leaders have had to endure a myriad of recommendations, from the vague (“be more strategic”) to the vapid (“paint your walls yellow, make more money”). Thought leaders constantly drop words like “culture” and “engagement,” and sometimes tie them holistically to an employee’s output, placing pressure on many businesses to either adapt or disappear.

One example of this difficulty lies in the connection between productivity and employee engagement.

In the past, if employees agreed with statements like “Company X is a great place to work,” they were considered “engaged,” while those who answered no were “disengaged.” However, a recent Harvard Business Review study reported that a “yes” to the question simply could mean that particular employee matched well with the corporate culture, while employees who answered “no” just could be dissatisfied with the status quo and looking to make big improvements. In that case, “engaged” employees were no more productive than their “disengaged” counterparts were.

Both engagement and productivity are worthy business objectives, but leaders must clearly outline their goals and then understand the metrics they are using to quantify said goals. Moreover, companies ought to utilize both behavioral and survey data to measure their workforce and then inspire management to take the findings to heart.

Increasing Productivity

Because of such studies, today’s HR and business leaders should make observing and learning from their workforce a top priority. This notion aligns with practices of such successful companies as Google and Southwest, which employ “design thinking.”

According to a recent Deloitte University Press article, “Design thinking moves HR’s focus beyond building programs and processes to a new goal: designing a productive and meaningful employee experience through solutions that are compelling, enjoyable and simple.”

Design thinking begins at the base — the employee — and works from there in order to improve output.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that different personalities, backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses exist within a single department; therefore, the ways in which businesses inspire those individuals to work harder and better inherently will vary.

Design thinking helps HR leaders classify people into different groups or “personas,” and once businesses form an understanding of their workforce, they then begin testing measures to inspire those different “personas” to produce. Design thinking is flexible; it tests each finding to its end. If the technique does not work, practitioners view it as a learning experience rather than a failure, and then continue trying different techniques until they figure out the best way to stimulate production from their different groups of workers.

But does design thinking actually work?

According to Deloitte, “The data from our survey this year suggest that the more importance an organization places on design thinking […] the faster the organization grows.”

Business leaders should remain vigilant about the experience of their employees without losing sight of their company’s overarching goals. This precarious balancing act requires constant observation, assessment and the occasional serving of humble pie. However, the result of an empathetic and nimble business is a churning, successful workforce.

Be sure to check out our article about personal productivity and how you are truly only two steps away from inciting increased productivity in your daily life.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Management

Katy Fabrie

by Katy Fabrie


Author Bio: Katy Fabrie is a Marketing Specialist at Paycom where she assists with executing integrated marketing campaigns. With extensive experience in both writing and research, Katy enjoys crafting content that helps HR professionals develop strategies to reach their goals. Katy has created both digital and printed content for a myriad of local and national companies, and she enjoys continually expanding her HR knowledge base. Outside of work, Katy enjoys reading, running and spending time with her husband, Colby, and dog, Fox.

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