Want to influence your boss? Join the same gym

A recent Baylor University study found that ‘informal coalitions’ that form outside the office or in break rooms have considerable sway on decisions.

A recently published Baylor University study shows that informal settings are an ideal place to bridge the gap between the executive level and … whatever level below that in which you may be residing.

The study, “Building buy-in: The need for internal relationships and informal coalitions,” was authored by Marlene Neill, an assistant journalism professor, and published in the Public Relations Review. It includes the following anecdote, which was part of a Baylor press release:

“We realized that our business leaders were listening to us, but we didn’t have that ball all the way punched into the end zone,” one corporate communications executive told Neill.

The game-changer was “informal coalitions” of the sort that stem from talks in break rooms, coffee shops or fitness centers. But recruiting allies that way may mean letting someone else take credit for ideas, the executive said.

“We joke that we don’t care how we get the ball in the end zone as long as we score,” he said.

“Building coalitions” may be as simple as walking down the hall. One communications officer, whose office was next door to an investor relations executive, said there is “this constant back-and-forth between us on how to position an issue and how to explain it . . . There’s lots of partnering and teaming.

In case you (or the executive you’re looking to impress) aren’t exactly a fitness or coffee enthusiast, these informal meetings can really take place anywhere outside a traditional meeting setting.

The study also includes the story of one corporate communications pro and a senior executive that “have a relationship . . . where he says, ‘If you ever see us where you think we’re going to do something stupid or wrong, I expect you to tell me.'”

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all long for—the ability to tell our CEO face-to-face that they’re stupid and wrong?

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