4 Ways to Engage Your Organization’s Hidden Influencers

Guest Author: Sarah Sonnenfeld, Principal & Founder at Alsephina Consulting

In any organization there are formal influencers – leaders and those viewed as decision makers. Indeed, by effectively activating the most influential people to spark change from within, we have seen leaders successfully drive organization transformations, improve sales growth, support effective M&A growth strategy, and accelerate the growth of their companies.

What most organizations fail to understand is that these individuals are not the only change agents. McKinsey has found that “informal influencers exist in every organization, across industries, cultures, and geographies. They are people other employees look to for input, advice, or ideas about what’s really happening in a company. They have an outsized influence on what employees believe about the future, as well as on morale, how hard people work, and their willingness to support—or resist—change.”

Using Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), Entromy surveys can easily identify hidden influencers. Hidden influencers are already operating effectively within the organization, and thus can help leaders map how things really happens and build trust. So, once you know who they are: how can you leverage hidden influencers?

Here are 4 tips that we at Alsephina Consulting have learned from our work with Entromy data at our clients:

1. Listen to hidden influencers closely

You’ll get a list of hidden influencers from an Entromy survey. Make sure you follow up to build deeper insight. This can be done in a few tried and true ways: You can do a focused, deep-dive survey, or hold listening sessions to learn about their perspectives.

2. Thank them, and see goodwill spread

Be sure to personally thank hidden influencers for their time and perspectives. Send them a handwritten thank you note, call them, or send a token gift. Previously hidden influencers will feel honored to be recognized by leaders in the organization and their peers. Then, because they are influencers, their positive sentiments will spread through the organization.

3. Invite them to join efforts to drive performance and growth

Hidden influencers can be fantastic change champions, and their involvement can help de-risk implementation. Keep an open line of communication with your influencers and ask them how they would like to be involved going forward, and who else they think should have a broader voice.

4. Use insights to strengthen trust networks within your organization

Once you have a sense of how influence has worked in your organization, you can support it!  One analytical technique: characterize network patterns of hidden influencers and then design training or onboarding to help others in similar roles model their effective networks.

Interested in learning more about hidden influencers or influencer-led transformations? Let us know!

About Alsephina Consulting

At Alsephina Consulting, we help leaders map critical risks and make smart organizational investmentsto deliver powerful business performance. Our grounding is strategy and our focus is people, teams and organizations. We bring tools of strategic analysis, organization design, behavioral science, people analytics, networks, innovation systems and classic human resources to help companies connect-the-dots in new ways as they chart their growth.