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Focus on the right things with the 'Circles of Influence'  

Lee Smith

24 Aug 2023
EX Practitioner
EX Tools
Personal development 

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In a broad holistic discipline like employee experience and engagement, practitioners often find themselves navigating a complex web of challenges and opportunities. Like any professional sphere, there are elements within our direct control, others we can influence and inevitably some that, whilst they may concern us, lie out of reach. The concept of "Circles of Influence" can help us identify where we can make the biggest difference and what’s beyond our control. 

Understanding the Circles of Influence, Control & Concern  

In the workplace, as in life, there are factors that we can influence and control, and then there are those that we simply cannot.  Spending too much time worrying about the things that are outside of our control can zap our energy and severely limit our impact and performance.  Take a look at the image below and imagine two scenarios:

Scenario 1: The Outer Circle
In this scenario, an employee experience practitioner fixates on issues and challenges that fall outside both their ‘circle of influence’ and their 'circle of control'. They continually dwell on these factors, leading to frustration, anxiety, and a sense of powerlessness. The prevailing mindset becomes one of “poor me,” and unfortunately, this negative perspective is often accompanied by inaction. The result? The circle of influence – the first of the inner circles – shrinks, suffocated by the weight of these worries.

Scenario 2: The Inner Circles
On the flip side, there's the employee experience practitioner who focuses their attention and energy on the things they can influence or control. This might entail working on areas where they can exert some influence through others, or taking charge of matters they have direct control over. By directing their attention towards their circles of influence and control, they become proactive, and their energy and impact expands. Every small victory fuels their motivation to find new ways to exert influence and make things happen.  Instead of wasting energy on futile matters, they channel it towards what can be changed and where they can have the biggest impact. With every step, they grow stronger, more creative, and their circle of influence naturally expands.

Applying the Circles of Influence Model

As an employee experience or engagement practitioner, being aware of your 'Circles of Influence' can transform the way you approach your role and enhance your effectiveness. Here's how:

  • Focus on What You Can Control: Start by identifying the aspects of employee engagement and experience that are within your control or influence. That doesn’t necessarily mean the areas we are directly responsible for– remember a big part of our roles involves influencing and getting things done through others. By concentrating your efforts here, you can bring about tangible improvements.

  • Collaborate and Communicate: Your circle of influence can expand by working with others. Collaborate with colleagues, seek their insights, and engage in open communication. This not only broadens your sphere of influence but also fosters a healthy culture of collaboration.

  • Constantly Expand Your Circle: Don't rest on your laurels. Keep looking for new ways to make a positive impact on employee engagement and experience. As you succeed in one area, explore new avenues for improvement.

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Every victory, no matter how minor, is a stepping stone towards a better workplace. Celebrate and acknowledge these wins; they serve as motivation for further positive change.
In conclusion, the Circles of Influence model isn't just a theoretical concept; it's a simple and practical framework that can significantly enhance your effectiveness as an employee experience or engagement practitioner.

By focusing your energy where it matters most, you'll not only create a more positive and productive workplace but also empower yourself to continually expand your sphere of influence and make a lasting impact.

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