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Be an influencer to get ahead at work

Understanding influence is the key to getting ahead in the workplace, a new study has found, with more men than women reporting feeling their contributions are valued in a way that positively affects their careers.

According a UGM Consulting study of 904 respondents, done in conjunction with Women on Boards, those who reported a high understanding of influence scored higher across all questions than their colleagues who reported a low understanding.

Lead researcher for the study, Dr. Grant Robertson says: “Those who understand influence also seem much more likely to use a vital set of influence-related skills and behaviours. These skills are absolutely fundamental to getting ahead in today’s workplace.”

The understanding of influence was found to affect all other areas of the study, with 15 percent fewer of the low understanding group clear on deliverables than their higher understanding counterparts. In nearly half of the questions, the difference between the groups was significant, often greater than 20 percent.

Dr Robertson says: “We also checked on specific skills that we’d already identified in our earlier work, such as getting speaking turns in meetings and having a sense of making meaningful contributions. Some of these, we thought, might be just loosely connected to influence. But the big surprise was how deep the impact of understanding influence runs.”

The research also looked at gender and generational differences. The greatest difference between men and women was the extent to which they feel valued in the workplace in a way that positively affects their career, with 20 percent more men feeling as though their contribution is valued.

UGM Consulting researcher Dr Margaret Byrne says: “Since we know that recognition heavily affects both performance and appraisal, it’s a concern that almost a quarter of men feel their contributions are not acknowledged. But the fact that almost half the women feel the same way is quite alarming.”

The study shows, fewer than half of those surveyed have written a short term plan and less than 60 percent believe they will achieve their short term goals.

To tackle the issues identified in the study, UGM Consulting and Women on boards are running a one-day interactive program in each Perth, Sydney and Melbourne over the next month.

Maree Sorbello

Maree Sorbello

Maree is a first year student at Sydney's University of Technology, and is one of Dynamic Business' star interns.

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