Event Date: 09/26/2018 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
Sarah: Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar hosted by HRDQU and presented by Rick Lepsinger. My name is Sarah, and I’ll moderate the webinar today. It will be about an hour, and if you have any questions, you can type them into that chatbox. We’ll be answering any questions as they come in live at the end of the presentation or in email if we do run out of time.
Also note that you can download the handouts directly through GoToWebinar. It’s in that handouts tab on your dashboard. So, welcome Rick, and thank you so much for joining us today.
Rick Lepsinger: All right, Sarah. Thanks very much, and hi everyone. Thank you very much for joining us today. I think we may have a record in terms of attendance for this session. There was over 1,000 people who registered, so I think that says something about the topic that we’re going to be talking a little bit about, influencing with impact or influencing with authority overall.
We’re going to cover three main topics. One, is we’ll talk a little bit about how effective managers gain the support over people over whom they have no direct authority, and here I’m going to share with you about 25 years of research, where we were trying to answer two key questions, which is really what do effective leaders do, effective managers do? And among this list of influence behaviors and tactics, among them, which has the greatest impact on gaining commitment? Which will be the greatest likelihood to yield commitment overall? So, we’ll share that with you.
We’ll also give you some tools to be able to assess the situation, to be able to choose the tactics that are going to be most effective, and so you understand in each situation, which tactics would be least effective, so you can start to put a strategy together. We’ll also talk a little bit about best practices in general for being able to effectively use influence to gain the support of other people.
What do we mean by influence in general? A definition that we use is this idea of getting people to change their behavior at a minimum, but you also want to try to change their opinions or their attitude. The whole idea is to get them to see your point of view, but to do it in a way that meets their needs. So, it’s not like just getting them to say okay, it’s getting them to really understand and appreciate how what you’re recommending and suggesting really is aligned with their needs, meets their goals and objectives, or aligned with their values.
You’re doing this in a way that is without coercion, or without having them feel directed. I’ve seen some models of influence out there, where coercion is actually one of the tactics. The truth is, that is a tactic, coercion is an influence tactic, but it’s one of the least effective tactics and should only be used sparingly. You’re trying to gain this influence without coercion or without having people feel like you’re telling them what to do.
Let me just ask you guys just for a second to go to, I think it’s the question box, in yours, or the chatbox I think is the question box. Just share with me, when you try to influence other people, when you try to gain their support and commitment, what are some of the challenges you face? What makes it difficult? And if you would type a few things in the chat section, I don’t think you guys can see it, but this will give me some sense of what your challenges are, and then I’ll be able to use that as kind of a guideline for my comments in general.
There’s people saying things like ego, that seems to come up here. Lack of patience, no buy-in, lack of trust, I think is a key factor. Lack of flexibility on their part, a lack of mutual understanding, organizational red tape and bureaucracy, different motives, different goals, lack of trust seems to come up, and ego seems to come up as a somebody’s thinking that they’re right and that you’re wrong. Conflicting priorities, lack of shared goals is another reason. Great. Good.
I think that’s … a few of them are still coming, but some of the challenges again, the other person’s ego, they think they’re right and you’re wrong, lack of shared goals, lack of trust, lack of shared values, there’s no incentive for them to do what you’re asking them to do in general. They prefer their way, they’ve done it this way before. They’re uncomfortable adopting a new way, seems to be some general themes.
Let’s take a look and see. When we talk about some challenges that we have, I think they reflect what you guys have overall. Poor quality relationships, and this goes back also to the lack of trust. You don’t really know the person very well, you don’t have that good exchange overall. Lack of credibility on your part, different priorities came up a number of times on your list, unaware of the needs and the goals of other, and unaware of what motivates others. If you look at this list, you can see these in many ways as prerequisites to be able to influence effectively.
Just at the start, you might think about the extent to which these factors are in place, and start taking [inaudible 00:05:43] to ensure these conditions are in place, so that you’ll be able to, at a later time, exert influence and use influence effectively with others.
Let’s think a little bit about the possible outcomes of an influence attempt. I’ll take a few minutes on this. It came out of our research overall, and it’s not that it’s so mind blowing, like you wouldn’t have been able to identify them, but it is helpful to call it out, because it helps in terms of setting expectations and setting strategy.
There are three possible outcomes. Let’s start with resistance, and this is the outcome you would like to avoid, where either explicitly people say, “I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I won’t do it.” And they might do it in a pleasant way, or maybe not, but they’re basically saying, “No. Not going to do it.”
The second is compliance. Now, compliance is a positive outcome. This is where you’ve been able to change the person’s behavior, or you’ve gotten them to agree to change their behavior, but you might not have been able to change their mind or their opinion, or their perspective. They might still disagree. They might still think that they’re perspective is better or they’re right. But, you have been able to get them to do what you’ve asked them to do. They key to compliance is that they do it well. In other words, they don’t just say, “Okay, I’ll do it.” To get you to stop talking. They actually do it on time, to standard, even though you might not have been able to change their opinion or their point of view.
Commitment on the other hand, is sort of a higher level of engagement. Here, you’ve not only gotten them to agree to change their behavior, but they also see your point of view. They’ve adopted your perspective, and they share your opinion in this regard. Now, when you think about what you need, because we use this word commitment all the time. I need your commitment. I want your commitment. Will you give me your commitment?
Frequently, we actually don’t need commitment. What we need is compliance. So, situations where getting someone’s behavior to change would be sufficient is when the request is fairly straight forward, when the process is well-known, sort of like a standard operating procedure, and the deliverable, or the outcome is clearly defined as well. Here, what you need primarily is someone’s compliance. Their behavior. They don’t necessarily have to agree. They don’t have to love what you’re asking them to do, but they do have to agree to do it and do it well.
Things like expense reports, or your taxes, are compliance activities. You don’t have to love it or even agree with it, but you do need to do it, and you need to do it well. You could probably think of a number of different activities at work where compliance would be perfectly acceptable. A change in behavior, even without a change in attitude. However, when the process needs to be developed or discovered, and/or the outcome, the deliverable, needs to be shaped and created, you might need more than just the change in behavior. You might actually need people to adopt your point of view, to be more highly committed. This is where it makes sense to say, “I need your commitment.”
An organizational change might be something where you need commitment. Or, you could even make the case that I just need compliance. Just do the behavior. If you do the behavior, you’ll get some experience with this, you’ll learn, you’ll see some of the benefits, and then I can move you to commitment. Because, if somebody starts with resistance, it’s highly unlikely you can move them immediately to being committed. The best you can expect is compliance if people are starting with resistance, which might be fine, because what they need is experience, exposure to this idea where they get more comfortable with it overall.
So, three key outcomes, and the key here is to remember, or at least keep in mind, what outcome do you need? Do you need commitment? Which is much more difficult to achieve, and maybe not possible if they’re highly resistant. Or, would compliance be perfectly satisfactory? Or be seen as sort of a milepost along the road to gaining people’s commitment as part of your strategy overall?
In our study of effective leaders, we identified 11 influence behaviors, or 11 influence tactics. The first four, reasoning, inspiring, consulting, and collaborating were found to be the most effective, but this is the most effective to gaining commitment. So, if you do need that higher level of engagement, these tactics are more likely to achieve that outcome.
The next set are apprising, recognizing, personal appeals, and exchange. These are moderately effective for gaining commitment, but they could do a very nice job of gaining compliance. Also, these moderately effective tactics work very nicely as partners or companions to the most effective tactics, because even though I’m going to talk about each tactic individually, in reality, we tend to use them in bundles. You can be most effective when using a combination of tactics in any particular situation.
The last set of influence behaviors are least effective. And these are least effective for gaining commitment, but they also may be least effective even for gaining compliance. But, the best you’re going to get with these tactics is compliance. Legitimating, coalition building and pressure may get you to get someone to change their behavior, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the higher level of engagement where they’ll change their point of view and their attitude and their opinion as well.
We’ll take a look at each one. And before I start that, we also did a cross cultural study where we took a look at the use of these influence tactics in 12 countries, and we wanted to understand the extent to which these tactics were both used and recognized and seen as effective in these 12 countries.
The model I’ll be sharing with you is not just a North American centric model, we really did involve countries in Europe and Asia to get a better feel for the appropriateness of these behaviors. I’ll share that with you during my overview of each of the tactics. We also did a gender study to see the extent to which there was any difference between how men and women tend to influence, and I’ll also share that with you during my talk today.
Let’s start with the four most effective tactics, and we’ll begin with reasoning. Reasoning is about making a logical argument using facts to support your point of view. Not surprisingly, this is seen as the most frequently used tactic, and it’s also perceived to be the most effective. This tends to be the go-to tactic across the board, in all 12 countries that we took a look at. This seems to be the tactic most people go to and are most comfortable with. It’s also used to the same extent by men and women. There’s no real difference in how men and women use this tactic.
Reasoning is about explaining why your task is necessary. It’s explaining why your proposed change will be cost effective, and it’s providing evidence, so it’s data driven, fact driven overall. However, there are certain conditions that need to be in place in order for your influence attempt, your rational persuasion, to be effective. You might wonder why your well crafted argument, you took time to put together this case, you collected a lot of information and a lot of supporting evidence, to really lay out your proposal and why it’s really the best. Yet, for some reason, despite how well structured your argument was, the other person was not moved. Matter of fact, they came back to you with their point of view that they felt equally as strong.
What is it that needs to be in place in order for reasoning to be effective? Two things need to be in place. One is shared goals. You and the other person need to be moving toward the same outcome, because even if your argument is very well structured, if you’re focused on outcome A, and they’re focused on outcome B, no matter how well crafted your argument is, it is not going to have the desired impact, because they’re not even interested in moving in that direction, and you’re trying to tell them what a good case this is, or why you should be doing this, it’s not even on their agenda overall.
The second is that you need to be recognized as a credible resource. Credible resource is made up of two components. One is your experience and your track record. Your expertise. Do you know what you’re talking about? Which is important. But the other element of credibility is does the other person believe? Do you have a reputation for speaking the truth? Because if the other person believes that you are selectively disclosing information, or putting a hyper-spin on the positive, and downplaying the concern, then your argument will be much weaker, even though you’re laying out the facts and the data, if they don’t believe that you’re, in terms of your truthfulness overall, it’s not going to have the impact.
So, reasoning can be a powerful tool if in fact goals are aligned and/or you’re seen as a credible resource. When these conditions are not in place, and/or in different situations, other tactics may be equally or more effective, and fortunately you have an array of other tactics to choose from, you don’t have to be overly reliant on reasoning.
A second tactic that can be highly powerful is inspiring or inspirational appeals. This is where you are connecting your proposal to the values and the beliefs of the other person. Interestingly, inspiring did not make the top five across cultures, although women tend to use this tactic much more than men do. This tends to be a highly underutilized tactic except when we look at our data, if you look at the general population, inspiring doesn’t get much use, but as you go up in level of the organization, the more senior the individual is, the more frequently they tend to use inspiring. There’s also a differentiator among most and least effective.
In the population of most effective leader, inspiring is a more frequently used tactic overall. So, for many people, this is an opportunity for development and to add this to your tool kit for influencing.
Inspiring is all about describing a clear vision. It’s also about arousing enthusiasm, a certain amount of energy behind your proposal or your comments overall. In order for inspiring to be effective, two conditions need to be in place. You need to have some understanding of the other person’s values and what motivates them, because inspiring is not just about energy. It’s not just about being enthusiastic, although that’s a nice addition. It’s also about helping people understand how your proposal is aligned with their values and consistent with their motives overall.
In addition to that, high levels of trust and a positive personal relationship are foundational elements. Many of you mentioned lack of trust or not knowing people. For inspiring to work, you really do have to have trust and some kind of personal relationship to be able to connect with people. The truth is, we call it, sometimes we call it charisma, as if it’s some innate quality in a person, but I do think that in many ways, what the charisma is, is in addition to, “Hey, we like them or their appearance,” but it’s also, “We trust them, and we feel like they’re talking to us overall.”
The third of the most effective tactics is consulting. Reasoning, it’s facts and logic. It kind of addresses the head. Inspiring is values and beliefs. It sort of gets at the heart and emotions. Consulting gets at the participative side of influencing. It’s about collecting the other person’s input, involving them in shaping the final outcome. This was seen as effective across 12 cultures, it made the top five. Women also tend to use this tactic significantly more than men do.
Consulting is about asking people for their ideas to improve a preliminary plan or proposal, and getting them to express their concerns, their doubts, their issues, about any new suggestion or change, and then using that information to refine the proposal overall.
For consulting to be effective, three factors need to be in place. One is the other person should have information that you don’t. This will help improve decision quality, or the proposal quality. And you need the other person’s cooperation for implementation or execution. This tactic basically increases their ownership of the final product. The key here, though, is that you have to be willing to make changes and be able to make changes, because if I ask you what your concerns are, or what your ideas are, but I have no intent to make any change, or I don’t have the authority to make a change, then this could end up backfiring where people could feel manipulated in some way.
It’s a great tactic. I encourage people to use it, if you’re willing to change your mind. But, if you believe what you’re doing is the best thing to do, do not use this, because if you’re not going to respond to the input you collect, this ends up not being an effective tactic.
The third is, sorry the fourth is collaborating. Now, the language here can be difficult since collaborating and consulting sound very similar. Here, collaborating has a very specific definition. Here, you’re working together with the person, but you’re working together to look for a way to reduce the difficulty of complying. That’s what collaborating is here. It’s reducing the difficulty, making it easier for someone to comply with your request. This was also seen as effective across 12 cultures. Men and women tend to use this about the same amount.
For collaborating, this is about offering to help someone do the task, or providing them with resources that’s needed to do the task. Again, those are two ways to make it easier for them to do what you’re asking them to do. You’re basically trying to remove an obstacle so they can comply.
Collaborating, in order for that to work for you, you need to actually have the additional resources to provide to the person, and you need to be able to reduce the difficulty of one person complying without creating a problem for somebody else. So, for instance, if I move a deadline to make it easier for you to comply, I have to be able to do that without making it harder for somebody else to comply. So, this whole thing about reducing the difficulty needs to be sort of a neutral kind of gain, where I don’t create problems for other people.
All right. Let’s take a look at a series of cases, where you’ll see Marcia, who’s a product manager, and she works with a lot of people around the world who design, develop and market her product. She’s on a project team, and she has to get work done with people who don’t report to her. I’m going to show you a series of scenarios, and I would like you to identify the tactic that Marcia is using to influence her peers and her colleagues in this situation.
All right. Scenario number one, and we’re going to put up a polling question so you’ll be able to answer the questions in a little bit. Marcia’s getting frustrated with James, the person responsible for developing the basic campaign for the new product release. Marcia is nervous about delivering on time. She decides to discuss this directly with James. It turns out that James has a wealth of information about process, cost and efficiencies that Marcia didn’t know about. Marcia asked James if he would work with her to establish project goals in order to communicate realistic expectations.
So, which one of these tactics is Marcia using? Reasoning, inspiring, consulting or collaborating? Sarah, if you want to put up the polling question. We could do that now. Let’s see. All right, so people are starting. We’ll wait until we get about, let’s see, we got about 70, I know some people are answering in the question box, which is good. We’ll take a look. And Sarah, when we get to about 75%, we can probably shut it down.
And I’ll show you the pattern here fairly soon if you guys can’t see it. You seem to be loading up on two of them. All right, so it’s closed at C. All right, in this particular case, it looks like there is a slight … you guys picked a slight lead on consulting, and we’ll take a look at that. In this case, it is consulting. Some of you picked collaborating, and again, collaborating and consulting, the language is a little bit confusing. Collaborating would be reducing the difficulty. Making it easier. Consulting is asking for the person’s input and helping them sort of shape the initiative. In this particular case, Marcia was consulting. Involving James in the process overall.
All right. Let’s take a look at the next one. This is … in this case, the development team has been pushing a certain feature to be included in the next release of the software. Marcia doesn’t believe that it will enhance the product for her target customers of younger users. The development team doesn’t agree, but Marcia and the members of this team have worked together before, so there’s a high level of trust. Marcia reminds the developers of the core values of the company, which are being the best and creating an exciting user experience. And she uses that as the basis to support her proposal. Let’s take a look at a polling question. Which influence tactic is Marcia using? Is she using reasoning, inspiring, consulting and collaborating?
All right, so Sarah, if you have that question up. All right, let’s see, and again you guys are loading up on two primarily. Okay. Marcia, you can stop whenever we have about 75%. It looks like we stopped. Okay. In this particular case, you folks have … is it still going? The majority of you, about 60% or so, picked inspiring. 33% picked reasoning, and then the lower percent picked consulting and collaborating. In this case, it is inspiring. The giveaway here is that Marcia referenced the core values. That’s the key piece here. This is a values based appeal. How what she’s asking is aligned with those values. If it was reasoning, she would be doing more of a fact based appeal.
Now. Those of you who picked reasoning. You’re not totally far off, because if you’re good at reasoning, you can also be very good at inspiring. Even though it’s an underused tactic. If we’re good at using facts and data to support our arguments, the shift for inspiring is just a focus on values and beliefs. It’s a little bit softer. So, if you’re good at reasoning, you potentially could be very good at inspiring. You’re just shifting your focus from the factual, logic piece to the feelings, values, beliefs piece overall.
All right, the third. Here we have Marcia’s working with her colleagues to figure out what the best price point should be for her product in order to make it attractive to the customer and maximize the return on investment made by her group. They’re all aligned with her objectives, but they just aren’t sure about her numbers. She presents additional data to support her recommendation. Which influence tactic is being used in this situation? Is it reasoning, inspiring, consulting, or collaborating? And Sarah’s just put up the new poll. All right.
We’ll stop when we get to about 75%. Looks like people are loading up pretty heavily on one tactic. Let’s see how that goes. All right. A few more coming in still? Looks like it slowed down a bit, so it looks like about 83% of people have picked reasoning. 12% picked collaborating and then one inspiring and 4% consulting. So in this particular case, it is reasoning. And again the key here is that it was a rational fact based argument. She provided additional data to support the recommendation. If it was collaborating, she would have been providing additional resources to make it easier for people to comply, but she’s not doing that here. She’s really giving them more data, more information to help them see why her recommendation and proposal, and the reason why it works is because their goals are aligned.
Heres the last one. This is the reseller strategy. Marcia wants a reseller to highlight her new release during a seminar attended by customers who will be likely be interested in the new product. Although these seminars are part of the contract, the reseller is being resistant and making excuses. Finally, Marcia decides to talk to the reseller’s manager to find out what the problem is. Marcia finds out that the reseller’s owner is trying to comply with Marcia’s company’s contractual requirements, but they find it time consuming. Marcia offers to bring in a team to help the reseller comply with the terms of the contract without creating additional work for the reseller. Which tactic is being used here? And Sarah, you can put up the new poll. Is it reasoning, inspiring, consulting, or collaborating?
All right, so a few coming in. You guys are getting really good at this, you’re leaning toward one over the others. All right. Looks like we’re stopped. Okay. 90% of you picked collaborating, which is, and then very few of you picked any of the others, a couple picked consulting, and a very small 1% picked reasoning and inspiring. In fact, it is collaborating. This is the classic example. I have resources, I’ll bring in a team, they’ll help you get this work done, and it’ll take the time and the pressure off of you.
If this was consulting, she would be asking them what to do. Now, those of you who picked consulting, if you were focusing on the reseller’s owner, where Marcia asked them what was going on? That was the consulting component. The solution was more of a collaborating and applying different resources, but you could see here, is a nice example of how these tactics mix and work together where you use a little bit of consulting to learn a little bit more, and get some input, and then you might use collaborating to really address the issue overall.
All right. So, let’s take a look at the next set. The moderately effective and the least effective tactics. Because even though you might want to focus on the most effective, the other seven tactics really should be part of your repertoire, and are appropriate in different situations.
So, we’ll start with the moderately effective tactics. We’ll start with apprising. This is where you’re basically letting someone know what’s in it for them, how they will personally benefit from complying with your request overall. The key to apprising is that, and for this to work effectively, is that you need to have some sense of what’s important to the other person, because if you talk about things that you value, or that the benefits that you think are important, it might not resonate. So, for apprising to work well, the assumption is, is that you have a basic understanding of what the other person would value. The key also to apprising, is that this is not something that you will give them, but apprising is a benefit that they will realize because they complied.
So, for example, if it’s you’ll get to travel more, you’ll get to learn a new coding language, you’ll get more visibility with senior management. Those could all be potential benefits, but you realize those only because you comply. It’s not something I’m going to give you. And again, the key is, if I say you’re going to get more, you’re going to travel more, it better be something you really want. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the impact.
Recognizing is about basically ingratiating. It’s saying something nice to someone before you ask them to do something. It’s basically giving them a compliment, acting respectful and friendly. Now, some of us look at this tactic, and are uncomfortable with it because it feels manipulative. However, if in fact you are sincere and genuine in your comment, this can be a very effective tactic. In addition, two factors need to be in place. One of them is that you need to have a history and a track record of recognizing, of complimenting, of saying nice things to people. Even without making a request. Because if the only time I say something nice to you is just before I ask you to do something, pretty soon you’re going to see the pattern there, and it may not be effective for you. In addition to that, the request that I make, or the compliment that I give you needs to be somewhat consistent with my request.
So, for instance, if I said something like, “You look fantastic. Did you lose weight? By the way, could you stay late tonight and work on the report?” Now, I said something nice to you and I complimented you, but it had nothing to do with my request. It would be more effective if you said something like, “The last time you were my project manager, the action plans were updated, everybody understood what their role was and what they needed to do, and the project came in on time and on budget, and I’d love it if you could be my project manager again.”
So, I’m complimenting, I’m basically saying something nice to you, the assumption is I’ve done that before. I’m sincere about my comments, and it’s somewhat related to what I’m asking you to do overall.
The next is personal appeal. Personal appeal is basically just asking for a favor. They key here, again people look at that, and they feel a little uncomfortable with it. It’s like we don’t do things around here that way. But, asking for favors is in fact an effective way, especially to get compliance. It’s basically, “Can you help me out?” It’s really what you’re doing. It’s, “Could you help me out here?”
You’re asking for the favor based on friendship and loyalty, because the person likes you, because you have a good relationship, you’re asking them to help you out. This can be effective if a couple of conditions are in place. One is, the request you’re making needs to be perceived to be within your authority. That it is really something that’s appropriate for you to ask. And, it needs to be something that is not seen as too difficult or too costly for the other person. Because a personal appeal is not a strong enough tactic if something is really difficult or challenging or costly. It’s not strong enough to change the behavior, even if somebody is your friend. And the other thing about personal appeals, it’s like a bank account. If you make withdrawals, you need to make deposits, and you need to be more reciprocal. So, if you’re doing favors, you could be more comfortable asking for favors.
The last in this category is exchange. This is where you are trying to increase the benefit, implicitly or explicitly, some kind of reward where you are increasing the benefit of doing what you asked them to do. So, unlike apprising, where the benefit is intrinsic to the task, exchange is something you’re going to give the person.
For example, we do a number of organizational surveys. One of our clients wants to get a high response rate, like 75 or 80%. So, what we do is, we offer every department that gets 75% response rate a pizza lunch. I don’t know if you’ve tried pizza as a … for exchange, but pizza’s an amazing currency. It can get people to do lots of things. Stay late at work, work on reports, fill out surveys, just give them a pizza, everybody’s good.
But the idea here, and this also demonstrates where exchange is moderately effective for commitment, because the deal is, fill out the survey, get a pizza. There’s nothing here about how well you do it. So, we can get them to change their behavior, but if they’re concerned about the survey or don’t want to participate, they can just click boxes in general. So, it’s great for getting the behavior change, but not necessarily the full commitment. So, exchange is increasing the benefit where collaborating is reducing the difficulty.
There are three tactics that are considered least effective. Now again, these tactics, on occasion, may be appropriate, but you need to go in realizing that the best you’re going to get is compliance, is a change in behavior. You’re not going to get the full blown commitment that your situation might need.
So the first is legitimating. This is where you’re basically letting someone know you have the right to make this request, because of your role or your overall authority, you have the right to make the request. Now, if you’re working in a geographically distributed organization where people don’t know each other very well, you may have to use legitimating so somebody really understands what your role is, and why your request is appropriate. But, the problem with the over use of legitimating, is that it tends to have sort of a parent/child kind of tone to it. “Do what I say, because I’m the project manager. As long as you’re living in my house, you’re going to come down and eat dinner with the family.”
That’s what the legitimating thing is. You know that legit … anybody that has teenagers knows that legitimating might get a short term change in behavior or the appearance of a change in behavior, but it doesn’t really last long. So, legitimating in combination with another tactic, or if people don’t know you, could work very well.
Coalition building is about enlisting others to basically make your case. Now, coalition building could be very appropriate if you do not have credibility, if you don’t have the relationship or access to the decision maker, and then you’re getting others who do to basically make your case. The downside of coalition is that you’re basically losing control of the process, and relying on others to make the case. But even so, it’s probably going to, at the best, get you a change in behavior, and not really change their opinion or point of view to get full commitment.
Pressure. Pressure has two forms. There is the soft form of pressure, where it’s sort of a persistent reminder, “Did you do it? Did you do it? Is it ready?” This is not following-up like on an action plan or monitoring. This is about every couple hours or every other day, “Did you do it? Did you do it?” Which is a soft kind of pressure. It’s also copying everybody on the email, is also a soft form of pressure where you have a conversation with someone, and then you copy the boss, just to make sure that everybody knows that this is what the person agreed to, which again, can be perceived as pressure. And there’s also a harder form of pressure, which is actually a threat. “If you don’t do this, something bad is going to happen, and I’m going to make it happen. I may have to escalate this, get other people involved. Maybe I won’t participate in the things you want to do. I’ll withhold.”
So, pressure again, the best you’re going to get here is a change in behavior. The other thing about pressure is that you have to really follow through. If you say, “If you don’t do X, I will do Y.” And they don’t do it, you’ve got to come through and deliver on your threat. And you have to be able to monitor compliance, because if the other person knows you’ll never know whether they do it or not, your threat is really very empty in that regard.
In addition, as part of our research, we took a look at some of the factors that support the use of these tactics, and the factors that limit the use. The idea here, and this is in the PowerPoint that you guys have a copy of it at some point, what we’re trying to do here is identify the conditions, and I shared some of them before when I was talking about the tactics. What conditions need to be in place in order to ensure that these tactics will work for you? You can use this information both to develop your strategy, but you can … to assess the situation, to see what tactic you might bring.
But, you could also use this with a longer term view, to make sure that these factors are in place, even though I don’t want to influence you right now, let me make sure that this foundation is in place, so that when the time comes where I do need to try to influence, I’m able to call on a wider array of influence behaviors. Where I don’t have to be overly reliant on one or two, but I can call on a number of tactics that are best suited for this particular situation.
You can see this for all the most effective tactics in general. So, before we open it up for questions, just a couple of key tips and a little bit of a summary. The idea about influencing is to see it as a long cycle interaction. It’s not just a single point event. You need to lay the foundation for the expected use of the tactics well in advance. You need to demonstrate and build credibility and track record. You need to identify shared goals and common ground, build positive work relationships, build trust and get to know the needs and values of other people that you depend on.
The idea here is that with this foundation, you could then call on a range of tactics based on your assessment of the situation, and what would be most appropriate given the individual that you’re talking to overall. So, lay the foundation well in advance.
It’s also important to remember that you influence people from their point of view, not your own. This is true for reasoning, for inspiring, for apprising, for all of them. You can put together a strong argument. You can appeal to values. You can talk about benefits, but if you’re talking from your point of view, it may not have the intended impact. When you put together your rational argument, use facts and data the other person thinks are compelling, not what you think are compelling. When you’re appealing to values, don’t appeal to your values, appeal to their values. When you’re talking about benefits, talk about things that they see as benefits, not what you see as benefits.
It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a great piece of data or a great benefit. It only matters if they do. Try to avoid being overly reliant on reasoning. We tend to go to reasoning because it’s either where we’re most comfortable and/or it’s sort of the way we grew up. Facts and data and logic and reasoning tend to be highly valued. However, despite the fact that if goals might not be aligned and you might not be credible, not everybody is moved by reasoning. Or maybe reasoning is not sufficient. You should look at reasoning as one of many tools to be able to both change people’s mind and change their opinion.
Sometimes, especially if you’re going to change opinions, inspiring and consulting can be a critical component. It’s more than just laying out the case. If you are going to use reasoning, and you lay out your facts, make sure you translate facts and features into benefit statements. Again, it’s things they see as benefits. But, don’t just lay out the data. Convert them into why that fact is relevant. How it’s beneficial to them. Don’t ask them to do all the work. Tell them what the benefit is overall. Don’t leave it up to chance that they’ll see the benefit. That could make the reasoning that much more powerful.
In general, influencing should be a conversation. It’s not will you make a proposal, or make a statement or paint the picture of some future state that everybody would find appealing. It really should be some kind of a conversation and an interaction. So, the effective use of both reasoning, consulting, collaborating, almost all the tactics, benefit from the increased use of active listening, paraphrasing, empathizing, and the use of questions to engage people to collect information. The more I know about you, the better I can influence you.
The more I know about what your goals are, the more I know about what your values are, the more I know about what’s important to you, the better I can help you understand how my proposal, my position, is aligned with those things. So, make it a conversation, both engaging and to learn overall.
A few things to avoid is try to avoid making hasty conclusions about the other person, the group’s reaction to your proposal. There’s that thing called the ladder of inference, where we see people’s behavior and we jump to a conclusion about what they like or don’t like. If you happen to be working virtually, and people don’t react or respond right away, you might just assume that they’re not happy. Try to avoid doing that and wait to confirm your assumption.
We talked about this idea, don’t focus to heavily on tasks, lose sight of relationship. You want to make sure that you’re focusing equally on building the relationship as well as the technical side of things. Influencing is not just about being smart. It’s not just about being competent. There’s a big component about relationship and trust.
You also want to avoid over using email. Email is terrible for having a conversation, and there’s no way, I would say it’s unlikely, you’re going to influence anyone through email unless it’s really straight forward and they were kind of inclined anyway. You could consider adopting the two email rule. If you exchange two emails and things have not been resolved, you might want to pick up the phone, start a video conference, or something just to get more connected.
Avoid using pressure until you’ve tried everything else. Pressure, legitimating, give the illusion of speed. They give the impression that we’re going to just move quickly. Why bother trying to make an argument? Why bother trying to change your mind? I’m just going to make you do it. It sounds right, because we’re under stress and under pressure. But, again you’re not going to get commitment, and you might even create resistance, although it may be more covert resistance, where they’ll look like they’re okay, but they’ll kind of leave the room and just do whatever they want to do anyway.
If the stakes are high, a lot to be gained or lost, and you’ve tried everything else, then pressure may be the way to go. But you’ve got to make sure you try all the other tactics and that the stakes are high, because pressure erodes the relationship, even if you do it nicely, makes it more difficult to influence people later on.
All right. Information about influencing and other key leadership tactics are in my book, Flexible Leadership, which is available on Amazon. And, if you’re interested in this topic in general, we blog on this topic all the time, and you can find it at my website, onpointconsultingllc.com.
All right, Sarah. I’ll turn it over to you for any questions.
Sarah: All right. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Rick. Yep. We have time for a few questions, so attendees, if you have any questions, just shoot them into the chatbox now. We do have some questions asking about the PowerPoint. The actual PowerPoint’s copyright, but you can go ahead and download the handouts, which is just in that handouts tab on the actual dashboard.
Let’s see. First question is coming from Mike, he said, “Which tactics work best when influencing your boss?”
Rick Lepsinger: Yeah. And we actually did a separate study on that. Not too surprisingly, reasoning tends to be the best tactic with inspiring kind of falling right behind that. They tend to work best. Some of the other tactics are, although depending on your relationship with your boss, you may be able to use them like consulting, in terms of a problem solving kind of approach, but for the most part, bosses seem to respond best to the reasoning and the inspiring tactics overall.
Sarah: All right. Perfect. Thank you. Our next question is coming from Jess. “I’ve heard that in order for people to change, they have to be ready, willing and able to make the change. Which influence tactics are most effective at fostering greater readiness?”
Rick Lepsinger: Right, and you’re absolutely right about that, this whole thing about change, it’s not being motivated to change, it’s being ready to change, and really that’s exactly what these influence tactics are all about. It’s about helping someone get ready. So, I would suggest that it’s not one tactic in particular that enables people to change, you’re really trying to use a combination, so you might be providing them with facts and data about why a change is necessary. You might be painting a picture of what the future would look like, the inspiring piece, that’s aligned with their values about when this change is implemented. You might also be involving them and engaging them in a dialogue about how to implement the change, what their concerns are, and what their ideas are, and you could be thinking about ways to reduce the difficulty of making the change.
So, just there, you take a look at the four key tactics, and in combination, can be very powerful to create the readiness to change. But, it’s not like just one tactic is sort of a magic switch. I’d also say that that’s the other thing about influencing. It’s not just a one and done. I make my case, your world changes, and now all of a sudden you agree. Sometimes it actually takes some real work for it to stick, and that’s why this dialogue piece, I think, is so important.
Sarah: Okay great. We’ll probably just have time for one more question. And that is, “How do you influence somebody to do the right thing when they are not around? They are competent when you are there, but when left alone, it’s a different story.”
Rick Lepsinger: Right. Yeah, so now there’s a number of other things there. It’s really about their … it’s like are they doing the right thing when nobody’s looking? I guess is part of that as well. So, there’s a couple of possible factors there. One is, they might not have been bought in to begin with. In other words, when you’re face to face, they’re sort of nodding their head going, “Yeah, yeah. Sure. That makes sense to me.” But as soon as they go off on their own, they don’t really agree to begin with, so they just do whatever they wanted to do to begin with.
My starting point would be, did you really gain commitment? Did you really gain their compliance? Or were you just getting sort of a covert resistance, and they were just sort of grinning at you just to get you to stop talking to them? I think that’s one piece. The other component is monitoring and feedback. In other words, if somebody’s not physically there, do you have some mechanism to monitor compliance and to provide feedback? So, here we’re now into sort of a coaching mode. You influence, you try to say, “Here’s the behavior I want.” Try to get them to adopt it, but then the other component is to monitor, reinforce positive behaviors, and provide coaching and guidance to help them execute the way you’re looking to.
So again, it’s not a simple, I influence you and now your world is changed, you just do what I say. There’s some work in there, and some systems in place to be able to monitor, coach, and reinforce behavior.
Sarah: Okay. Perfect. Thank you so much, Rick. That is all the time we have for today, and just real quick, Rick. Sam just wants to know, is there a Kindle version of your book?
Rick Lepsinger: I think there is. If you go up on Amazon.com, there actually might be a Kindle version. I haven’t looked in a little while.
Sarah: Okay. All right, perfect. I’m going to go ahead and scroll through that chatbox, see if we didn’t get time to answer some of your questions, I’ll send those over to Rick, he’ll answer them, and then we’ll send those out in an email probably about mid next week. So, Rick, would you just like to add any final thoughts, before we’ll just wrap up then?
Rick Lepsinger: No, I just want to thank everyone for attending, and again, just to remember that influencing is not just a single event. It’s a series of interactions, and anything you can do to lay the foundation for effective influence on the front end, will increase the likelihood you’ll be effective when the time comes when you need to influence someone. So thanks everyone. I hope to see you at another one of our webinars in the future.
Sarah: All right, Rick. Thank you again so much, and everybody on the line. We appreciate your time, and we hope you found [inaudible 00:58:29]. Thanks all. Bye.
Rick Lepsinger: Bye everyone.
Because the core processes of a business—ones that are responsible for creating end-products or services—cut across functions, the best and most efficient way to meet the customer’s needs is to improve the way in which people in these related functional areas work together. This collaboration enables the organization to accomplish goals and implement major change initiatives more quickly and with better quality than if each function operated as a separate “fiefdom.” Key to success in this environment is being able to work effectively with people across the organization, over whom one may have no authority.
Influence without Authority focuses on the behaviors used by the most effective influencers and is for anyone who works on a team or needs to work across organizational boundaries.
What to learn more? Read the post How to Master Influencing Without Authority.
Participants Will Learn
- Recognize the influence tactics used by effective managers
- Assess situations to determine which tactics would be most and least effective
- Develop an influence plan to gain support from the people you need to achieve your objectives and business challenges
Who Should Attend
- Training and HR professionals
- Independent consultants
- Managers delivering training
As President of OnPoint Consulting, Rick’s career has focused on helping organizations and leaders identify and develop leaders, work better virtually, enhance cross functional team performance, and get from strategy to execution faster. He conducts numerous seminars and workshops on succession management, leading from a distance, leading cross functional teams, and enhancing execution. Rick has written numerous articles and is the author or co-author of several books.