How OHS professionals can successfully influence decision-makers

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Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

There are a number of important factors OHS leaders need to consider when it comes to influencing and securing the support of decision-makers to support safety initiatives, according to a leadership expert.

Influencing decision-makers can be a challenge – especially when you have no direct authority or power, said Trevor Flint, director of Capstone Associates.

There are a number of factors that come into play and can create barriers to influence, explained Flint, who said these include:

  • The relationship that we have with the person we are trying to influence
  • How our personal credibility is perceived
  • Our ability to adapt to our audience’s preferred communication style
  • What degree of alignment there is in terms of their values and beliefs
  • How effectively the person we are trying to influence’s interests are aligned with the idea we are trying to sell.

“To be successful we need to become intentional about removing the barriers we encounter when it comes to influencing,” said Flint, who was speaking ahead of the AIHS Perth Safety Symposium, which will be held on Friday 27 November 2020.

“Decision-makers are going to be looking for information that supports their personal interests and agendas, presented in a way that they like.”

Finding meaningful ways to align your agenda with theirs and helping them to see why adopting your agenda is going to benefit them directly is a key component to gaining their support and buy-in, he said.

It is important to spend time putting yourself in their shoes and figuring out what it is they really care about – and then use these insights to find ways to craft your message to reflect this significantly increases the likelihood of achieving the outcomes that we want.

“As Stephen Covey wrote, think win-win – look for the mutually beneficial solutions or agreements and focus on those areas,” he said.

When making a decision, Flint said it would be nice to think that people consider all the available information in order to guide their thinking.

“Unfortunately, the reality is very often different. In the increasingly overloaded lives we lead, more than ever before we need shortcuts or rules of thumb to help us be effective in gaining the support that is necessary for us to achieve our goals and objectives.

“The good news is that we can learn to be more strategic in terms of overcoming the obstacles to influence and as a result increase our ability to create safer outcomes.”


Flint will be speaking as the AIHS Perth Safety Symposium, which will be held on Friday 27 November 2020 from 9.00am to 5.00pm at ECU Mount Lawley Campus. For more information call (03) 8336 1995, email or visit the event website.