When it comes to gathering input and hearing the voices of their team members, executives sometimes overlook junior employees, perhaps assuming that new staff members don’t yet understand the corporate culture well enough to offer valid suggestions for change. This can make getting your voice heard as a junior employee quite a challenge.
As a junior staff member, you have to find effective ways of overcoming this kind of implicit bias if you want your leaders to take your proposals seriously. Here, 11 experts from Forbes Coaches Council explore ways new and lower-level employees can make sure their voices are heard and influence significant change within their organizations.
Forbes Coaches Council members explore ways for junior employees to influence change and have their voices heard. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
Become The Go-To Person For Something
Find a gap in the organization’s needs, and then fill it with extraordinary competence. Junior employees should never be in a hurry to become an influential voice. When influence is formed within a niche grounded in real value, it lasts longer. Over time, you will be recognized, and your opinions will matter. - Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence
Be An Exceptional Listener
First of all, be an exceptional listener. Listen not only to the conversation or words used in the room, but also to the messages people are trying to communicate. Model what it means to help someone else feel heard. Follow up by asking intentional questions that add value and shape the conversation in a productive way. Share your perspective confidently, but take the time to consider how to share it succinctly. - Shane Hatton, Shane Michael Hatton
Add Value And Support Your Boss
The best way to gain influence is to understand what matters to your boss and add value where you can. Find out what priorities matter most. Learn how you can best support your boss. Understand what strengths you bring and use them. Be proactive in finding ways to add meaningful value. Your influence will grow as you support your boss to be successful. - Cheryl Breukelman, Epiphany Coaches Inc.
Find Small Ways To Contribute
Think small. Find small ways to add value and contribute to the senior leaders around you. Bring extra printouts of their materials for a meeting in case they didn’t have a chance to print; take good notes at the meeting and turn them around promptly; cheerfully take on the administrative burden of scheduling the next meetings—all of these small actions build trust, which opens hearts and ears. - April Armstrong, AHA Insight
Join A Business Resource Group
Many organizations have established BRGs that help employees build workplace networks in a range of innovative and diverse categories. Junior employees are likely to find one or more BRGs that resonate with them. Through those groups, they can find opportunities to connect with senior leader members and sponsors who can help shape and champion their ideas. - Steve Salee, Wildfire Strategies
Participate In Reverse Mentoring
Young employees should work with their manager or HR to identify a mentor and offer to mentor the mentor in return. This relationship will help the junior employee learn how to speak up and share their point of view, which benefits the mentor as well. Reverse mentoring is a great way to provide insight and a fresh perspective. The mentor can champion the junior employee and their ideas, providing them with the confidence to speak up. - Shelley Hammell, Sage Alliance, Inc.
Learn The Ins And Outs Of The Job
Seek to understand the ins and outs of the job and the impact it has on the mission, values and goals of the company. Accelerate learning by becoming proficient and optimizing the systems and processes. Along the way, strive to develop a network that is supportive of creating value and growth. In a short time, the focus and energy applied will be recognized and rewarded. - Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting
Ask Questions To Broaden Your Context
Ask questions and try to understand the bigger picture. When you broaden your context, not only do you improve your own understanding of where your role fits, but you also create better solutions and can suggest ideas for improvement that look beyond the obvious. It sets you apart as someone who can look at a problem from multiple perspectives, be empathetic toward your peers and build your influence. - Yamini Virani, Celebrus Business Strategies
Offer Innovative Solutions
Experienced executives often follow familiar playbooks. However, this is not to the company’s advantage, as old recipes cannot always be applied to new situations. The best way for a rookie to attract attention is through new, creative and targeted solutions that do not focus on cost management, but rather on new markets, products and innovation. Call it progress. - Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™
Build A Strong Personal Brand
Be known for something. Consider what you can be the “best” at and build your reputation around that. This makes you stand out, helping you start to build a reputation that precedes you. Be known as the Excel guru, the team connector, the inspirer or the specialist. This allows your reputation to travel throughout the organization and gets you noticed. - Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital
Be Seen And Heard By The Right People
Visibility trumps ability. No matter the rank, the key is to be seen and heard by the right people. “Low-hanging fruits” for doing so are: speaking up at meetings, volunteering for projects or activities, initiating a program, organizing lunch-and-learns and inviting guest speakers or sharing content on LinkedIn and tagging relevant people. It all comes down to building a brand and doing it consistently, online and off. - Petra Zink, impaCCCt
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