For this reason I have put together a range of techniques that will help you to get the attention that your initiative deserves. I stress, these are techniques, not tricks! If you use tricks, then you will have a good level of sales, or credibility, for a short period. But when it runs out it will run out forever! People do not like being tricked.

These techniques are designed to help you exert influence. To help others see your point of view and to put forward programs or plans that have real potential for benefits within your company. They are useful for getting managerial support, but they are also useful when used to implement cultural change initiatives.

There are a few misconceptions about whether the boss will support your initiatives or not. At the end of the day it is more than likely that your boss does not make the budget, he or she just decides where to spend it. They usually make commitments as to where they are going to spend this money during the previous years' budget setting period.

So, if they are going to support you, a decision that will mean will come down to spending money one way or the other, then you are faced with one of two choices. First, make it easy for them to change the spending plans to divert some funds towards what you want to do. Or second, convince then to support you in your proposals to the person who makes the budget. (Whoever that may be)

If you are going to do either of these, and my experience is that the second one is easier, then you are going to have to dramatically change the way you approach the whole thing.

Breakthrough Tip # 1 - What keeps your boss awake at night?
Your boss, (or their boss) doesn't care that TPM will help you create autonomous teams, help with inter-discipline working, or raise the skill levels of the workforce in general. What he cares about are the issues driving the business at that point in time. This is your challenge, find out what is causing the most headaches, work out how asset management can be of benefit in that area, and then place your initiative in this context.

An easy first choice is obviously in the area of cost reduction. Inventory reduction, emergency parts orders, reduction of labor time; all are areas where many initiatives will be able to deliver quantifiable results. Another way to look at this is to look at reductions in unit costs, the ability to produce more from existing physical assets. And what is your part in this? To create increases in reliability at a cost that will support a reduction in the unit costs.

Once you get beyond costs however things get more interesting. Accepted thinking is that all companies are primarily driven by direct costs reductions, thus increasing overall profitability. Not so unfortunately or we would all know what to do by now!

Many of the companies that I regularly deal with are forward looking companies; their management reflects their nature. Complex organizations, faced with complex problems, requiring sophisticated answers. This is where you need to be if you want to get real support.

What is the future for the organization? What added pressures will technology changes bring to asset management? How can you respond to this? What is their forward-looking asset investment profile like? Does anybody even know? What about law changes regarding corporate manslaughter and other legislation that is bearing down on companies in the 21st century? Sarbanes-Oxley is a classic case in point. And there are a range of other issues in these areas depending on what company you work for and where they are based in the world.

Bottom line: Change the way you approach maintenance improvement. Instead of talking about what your idea will do to improve operations, talk about what it will contribute to current business concerns.

Breakthrough Tip # 2 - Enthusiasm is contagious!
I am always amazed at how real enthusiasm, combined with credibility, can light fire to the dullest lectures, speeches, and courses. I find this to be true no matter in what surrounding. A person who shows real enthusiasm for what they are doing, based in a deep held understanding and appreciation of what they are discussing, will infect those that they are speaking to.

Why is this? Because people can see that you are truly inspired by what you are talking about, and they also feel inspired. People want to be positive, they want to look on the bright side, and they want answers to their issues. If you can provide these, then you will move a step closer to realizing your goals of getting more support.

Quick tips: Keep on-message as per the previous point, make sure that you are conveying real enthusiasm, not real desperation, and where possible use case studies and examples to back up what you are saying.

Breakthrough Tip # 3 - People are more focused on keeping what they have, than getting something new!
This is an influencing technique that I have used successfully many times and is one that I recommend strongly to you. All people will value what they have more than what they could have. This is a psychological fact, although I have no clue why!

Think about it, if you miss out on that promotion, you are going to be a little depressed, but you will get over it. But what happens if you get demoted! People work day in and day out to try to get ahead, but they are also working to sustain what they have. The fear of losing what we have outweighs the promise of getting something more.

You have a ticket to got to the cinema it cost $10. And when you get there you find that you have lost it! Do you buy another one (now $20!) or do you cut your losses? Researchers at Princeton University have found that most of us would cut our losses, even though the movie would have given us an excellent entertainment experience.

When discussing your initiatives, try to place it in the context of not losing what we have now. Sustaining market position, sustaining regulatory position, maintaining the level of productivity, and maintaining current levels of teamwork are all excellent examples of how you could use this technique.

To exploit this to its full potential it is necessary to think about what the opportunities are, as always, but also in this case you need to be thinking about what the threats are to current performance or other issues. These are your leverage points!

Breakthrough Tip # 4 - Change the environment!
This is something that churches and armies have known for a long time. If you change the environment you change the way that people react. Have you ever been to boot camp? Within a few hours everything that separates you as an individual disappears and you are just like every body else. Wow! What a way to change the way that people act!

So how can this help you? I suppose it is not going to be easy for you to send your boss to boot camp! So what are the options, try some of these for starters:

  • Take the boss out for dinner sometime, people act differently out of work
  • Get your boss into a workshop or seminar, a situation where you can control or predict behavior
  • Take your boss into a bar, sporting club, your local charity, a church event etc, etc, etc.
  • You get the point. People will become more suggestible when they are in a changed environment. This does not guarantee success however.

Follow the roadmap in this article, get on message first, be enthusiastic, deliver the message in a changed environment, and you are well on your way to getting the real support for your breakthrough initiatives.

Breakthrough Tip # 5 - Under-commit and over-deliver!
This tip is more about sustaining levels of support rather than gaining it at the outset. When we are very keen to get something off the drawing board we often overstate the potential for gains. Or we will state the best-case benefits scenario instead of the conservative case, thinking that this will allow us to get things going. And it will!

However, this is only a short-term option. Again we need to be thinking end of life not just end of project. If you overstate, and then don't deliver, what will happen to your credibility?

How is this going to play out on the rest of your career, or on the chances of you getting support for another initiative?

So, if you can get a return of $1,000,000, tell the boss you can get $600,000. If you can do it in three months, tell the boss it will take 5 months. If you can get the report in within two days, tell the boss it will take a week.

Then over-deliver! Get the report in early, the project done quickly, or get more benefits than planned. You will surpass expectations, dramatically impress the boss, and allow him to impress his bosses. And you will be on your way to getting more support for your next initiative as you progress along your career path.

Article submitted by, Daryl Mather, Author of The Maintenance Scorecard

Daryl Mather

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