Inspector Generals have wide latitude to investigate and report on wrongdoing, but little power to enforce their findings and recommendations. Because of this, the ability to influence without authority is one of the most valuable skills an IG can have. The good news is that, while some people are naturally better at this than others, it is a skill that can be learned through study and practice. Here are a few techniques that can enhance your influence on prosecutors, politicians, and even staff at the agency under your purview.
Listen and respond: Different types of people respond to different types of discussion, information, and emotion. When developing relationships or delivering findings, take the time to pay attention to what the other party is seeking. Are they looking for a strong factual basis to justify them acting in the way you want? Are they trying to minimize conflict and risk? Do they feel threatened because of your role? Tailor your responses to make them feel like your recommendations won’t run counter to their own goals – and make sure to give them plenty of opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
Focus on Improvement: Investigators have the unfortunate job of always being critical. If a report is recommending action, it’s because something wasn’t done as well as it should have been. But rather than focus on all of the negatives in a finding report, focus on how your recommendations will improve their agency. Rather than discussing recommendations as if they are a punishment, use them as an opportunity to avoid risk and gain respect as a top-performing agency in the future. From this perspective, your job is to help their agency do better, be better, and therefore look better.
Be Persistent: Unfortunately, the world IGs operate in is highly bureaucratic – it can get so bad that the best way for an agency head to deal with a challenge is often just to wait until someone stops bringing it up.
Because of this, you might have to find a way to indicate that you’re not going to be a ‘problem that goes away with time’. Don’t be afraid to bring up the same issue several times if necessary, and to indicate that it will be on the agenda until it’s addressed. Most agencies are large enough that only a select few issues boil to the top – in order to be one of those issues, your recommendations will need to be as actionable as possible, and they’ll need to be delivered persistently until they’re implemented.
To learn more about how CMTS can help your agency align your people, policies and workflows, call us at (919) 600-5102 or request more information online.