Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Push that button baby

As a business psychologist, I get to observe a lot of managers in action. In one organisation I've come across, the Chairman is a self-made man who has grown his business over two decades of hard work and determination. But ideas from his team often fail to impress him – even when they clearly have merit for the business. The canny employees who succeed in driving projects through and reaping the career rewards realise that business benefit is only secondary; in order to succeed, proposals have to fan the flames of the Chairman’s ego. Business benefit without much fan waving is always doomed to failure.

Most people have a secret hot button of some sort. For the Chairman it is flattery. Even though many business people appear to be motivated by money, the truth is they often chase money as a proxy for something else - recognition, security, fear of failure, or a need for control over their lives.

People rarely talk about their darkest, innermost needs. Many people aren't even aware of them. But if you can figure out what it is that people secretly desire, then learning to influence and persuade them will be as easy as pushing a button on a remote control.