An important part of a good Business Analyst's tool-set is the ability to engage and influence key stakeholders.
Here's a simple model I use to develop meaningful and lasting professional relationships with my stakeholders be they managers, project people or juniors:
Over a period of time (i.e. one or more meetings or interactions) make sure you move through the following phases:
Step 1: MATCH
- The main goal for this phase is to empathise as much as you can. In other words walk a mile in thier shoes.
- Actively demonstrate that you are working to understand their view of the world. Take opportunities to stop the conversation and "play back" what you've heard.
- Listen out for opportunities to add value in small ways. (e.g. mention an online resource that may be helpful for them)
- Whenever you interact be sure to mirror body language, tone of voice, language. Sounds cheesy but it works!
- After you've practiced matching for a while you should be more 'in tune' with their way of thinking.
- Conversations should flow quite easily and your stakeholder should be quite relaxed.
- You should also have a good understanding of what they want or what thier concerns are.
- In this phase you focus on keeping the momentum going. Feedback things that you know they would be interested in.
- Make sure you keep any promises made in conversation even if it may seem trivial. (This is crucial for building credibility!!)
- You know you're getting this part right if you can finish their sentences!
- Be outcome oriented. Stay wedded to the outcome and not the method of getting thier!!!
- This is when you start bringing in your agenda in a very respectful way.
- Start by telling the reason for talking to them. Ask them for some time to explain your point of view.
- Be open to comments and treat questions or concerns with respect.
- Respond to comments as if you were looking at your message alongside your stakeholder.
- Ask them what they think the best way is to proceed.
- Respond to thier advice. Show that you are able to be influenced.
If you're interested in where this model came from have a look at the NLP wiki.