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3 Skills that Foster Change

Getting people to change age old habits is tough, but it’s an important skill managers must learn. For change to be truly successful a series of different variables must go your way. One of the most important variables in attaining successful change is trust. For people to change they have to trust what you’re telling them.

We’ve all been here before. You’re asked to change your habits and you find yourself wondering if the change will really be beneficial. For individuals to alter their habits and try out something new they have to trust what is being asked of them. If trust is not achieved individuals may or may not alter their routine. Even if they do try something different odds, are the change won’t be long lived. Change is all about exerting influence. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback “Your ability to influence others…begins with people’s willingness to be influenced by you. And their willingness begins with their trust in you – their confidence that you will do the right thing.” So if change is really dependent on how well you as a manager can influence your team and if influence is built on trust, then the million dollar question I bet you’re asking yourself is how do you develop that trust? Well rest assured, Hill and Lineback outline three important skills managers must possess to garner individual’s trust.

Technical Knowledge

According to Hill and Lineback this is having knowledge of not only the work performed by your team, but also understanding the basics of management. For example, if you manage a team of stock brokers, you need to understand SEC regulations in addition to something about the financial products your team sells. Hill and Lineback point out that it’s easy for managers to fall prey to the belief that they must then become the de facto “expert”.  In fact this isn’t the case. While you don’t have to be the expert, however it is expected that you know enough to make good decisions, set intelligent priorities, and offer useful guidance.

Operational Knowledge

This is what most of us refer to as practical knowledge. It is basically an understanding not what but how you and your group do what they do. It’s not enough just to understand the concepts of how things are done, Hill and Lineback believe that it’s more important to “know how it’s actually done in your company – the steps involved, who must approve, and then the tests to be met.” Technical Knowledge will get you a good grade on a test, but operational knowledge is essential in actually getting work done. Operational Knowledge is not just important for you to be successful at own work. It’s also a critical skill to have enabling managers to fully understand the work that is done by your team. According to Hill and Lineback, if you don’t have Operational Knowledge of your team “you won’t understand what they actually do, what support and resources they need, or what you can expect from them.”

Political Knowledge

– This is defined as having the knowledge required to get anything done in a political environment – like the organization where you work. We all know that getting what you need often times requires political knowledge. It goes without saying that having “an understanding of how to justify your capital request in way most likely to succeed in your organization” is important. Your team expects you to be able to help them and if you do not have Political Knowledge, then you will never get the resources and attention you and your team need to do good work.

Despite all of these skills, trust is ultimately built through accomplishments over time. Hill and Lineback put it best by saying that “Nothing in the long run can overcome a deficit of accomplishment.”

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