I recently attended a presentation on self-awareness and influence by Dr. Charles Dwyer, Academic Director of the Aresty Institute’s Leading and Managing People program in the Wharton School. I was so impressed with the presentation that I bought his book, The Shifting Sources of Power and Influence.
This book was a real eye-opener, and a jewel for anyone in project management. In the book, Dwyer states three major challenges we all face:
- Dissonant Value Systems (i.e. people’s conflicting value systems, made even more visible by the advent of the media, internet, etc.)
- Diffused Power (i.e. power being spread around in a matrix fashion, with more and more decentralization and special interest groups, etc.)
- Limited Resources (We all face a limited set of resources, made even more challenging by our lack of a mindset geared towards accepting tradeoffs, or a good mechanism to guide operational priorities)
Sound like any projects you know?
Dwyer goes on to caution that public statements, such as vision, mission, organizational values, etc. may be useful for articulating the values of the leadership or giving people a sense of structure, but do not in themselves change anyone’s value systems. Many leaders assume they can use these statements to change people’s value systems to match organizational values, but this is a myth.
What is needed instead is the ability to influence others by getting them to change their behavior to match your values. To do this, have a clear picture of what you want the unit to look like; set specific, measurable objectives; and insure that people have a way of achieving those objectives.
According to Dwyer, some tried and true methods include asking people for help, offering or implying something in return, or influencing indirectly (i.e. working through someone else who’s in a better position to influence).
Dwyer points out five guidelines for influencing people (I’ve paraphrased them):
- Insure they have adequate capability (Do they know what to do, have the competence and self-confidence to carry it out?)
- Address their perception of “Potential Value Satisfaction” (WIIFM or “what’s in it for me”)
- Address their perception of the probability of value satisfaction (i.e. Do they trust you? You must build trust through visible examples.)
- Address their perception of cost (Do this by giving them alternatives or a sense of options, and helping them understand the costs and implications.)
- Address their perception of risk (Try to assume or distribute some of the risk. Don’t ignore it.)
These are the five things everyone weighs in their mind when someone attempts to influence them. In essence, the five elements (four of which are perceptions) make up an equation for behavior. We can influence people’s behavior by addressing this equation (I’ve paraphrased for simplicity):
Behavior=Capability + (Perceived Value * Trust factor) – (Perceived cost and risk)
These are just some of the gems of wisdom in Dwyer's book. He offers reams of memorable examples, often with a humorous style. With 90% of a project manager's job being communication (including influence), I highly recommend Dwyer’s book for project managers, or anyone in a leadership position for that matter.
Labels: awareness, capability, change-management, influence, it-project, job, leadership, mindset, people, program-management, project-cost, project-manager, satisfaction, secrets, value, value-management