The Q4 Model

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Influencing a Boss Who Won’t Go Along With Your Idea

May. 21st, 2018

The Situation

You work with your boss, Jim, on a four-person marketing team for a small chain of retail stores.

Your department has a respectable marketing budget. But you feel it’s missing out on using social media: it does little with its Facebook account and nothing with Snapchat or Instagram.

An Opportunity

You want your company to send you to a “Social Media for Business” class at a local college next fall. There are application fees, plus tuition, and it would mean taking off work early a couple of days a week to attend class.

You discussed this with Jim, but he’s shown little interest. Yet, Jim was once a key player in getting your company’s website going. He also uses the internet for e-mail blasts and e-coupons to help with sales promotions.

How Can You Influence Your Boss?

Even with his past innovations, you don’t think Jim appreciates newer online marketing vehicles. The course registration deadline is around the corner. But you aren’t sure how to proceed, since you have no power over your boss. How can your Q4 style be applied to influencing your boss?

Your Choices:

Acknowledge Jim’s past innovations, but explain that you feel he needs to update — that he is hurting the company’s opportunities by not letting you learn today's marketing approaches.
Find an ally in the company who has more influence with your boss than you do. Enlist that person’s aid to persuade Jim to invest in social media marketing.
Use specifics to make your case, showing how Jim and the department will benefit by your taking this class. Be as fully informed as possible, and have specific advantages ready to share.

Choice A

Even if you compliment Jim at first, you are still gift-wrapping an accusatory message. By portraying him as an obstruction to progress, he becomes the bad guy in your scenario. The hero in this should be social media — how it can be used to improve the success of the business, which is in Jim’s interest. The more on-target the marketing is, the better your team will meet its goals. Answer C is much more likely to succeed.

Choice B

While it may be a good idea for other influencers in your company to be onboard with a social media marketing effort, Jim probably wouldn’t take well to being pressured. And he may see this tactic as going behind his back. Q4 influencing involves direct, open communication that emphasizes benefits in order to persuade. See Answer C.

Choice C

The overarching idea behind a Q4 approach is to show Jim what’s in it for him and the company to get on board with social media. Put yourself in Jim’s place. That means emphasizing benefits, benefits, benefits! Do your homework; be prepared to show how other companies in your category have benefited from a social media strategy. Since Jim seems to have doubts about this type of marketing, get facts and figures to prove your case. This isn’t about being trendy — it’s about connecting with customers. (Back in the day, Jim probably had to persuade someone to try e-mail marketing.) Then, get specific about how Jim and the marketing department will benefit from these additional marketing tools. Leave the benefits for you out of it, unless you want to make the point that you’ll be a better contributor to the marketing team with the knowledge you’ll gain.
A First-Person Statement could be effective too. Instead of pointing an accusatory finger at Jim for holding things up, ask for his help: “Jim, I’m really concerned about our marketing effort falling behind our competitors in this significant area. I see other companies like ours doing much more with social media ….” This can be the bridge to help Jim address the issue. If you’re both on the same side, the discussion could then turn to how to find the funds and time for you to attend the class.