For those who like me, have been working in the corporate world for some time, have possibly witnessed the rise of new required skills to; the ability to Influence Without Control. Earlier in the days, most organisations were hierarchical with simple and solid reporting lines, therefore delivering results was more within our control. You used to get what you would expect.
Moving more and more into matrix organisations and the birth of COEs, (Center of Expertise) and Shared Services teams, structures became flatter, people operated more as individual contributors expected to collaborate with everyone to deliver to expected results. Most of the solid reporting lines disappeared, spans and layers have become more controlled and most are expected to do more with less. For individuals to succeed, they needed to recognize that the commanding style is not effective anymore and rather than taking a top down approach, they must ask for other people’s opinions and insights, display the ability to embrace individual differences, amplify the strength of diverse people and potentially leverage them for competitive advantage to get things done. This is where being CIA becomes critical.
Human relations specialist Neil Thompson and social work lecturer Sue Thompson discussed the CIA model as a problem-solving and time- and stress-management tool that identifies three ways to respond to challenges: Control, Influence and Accept.
- Control: identify the issues or elements of the situation that you control.
- Influence: identify the elements that you can’t control, but that you can influence.
- Accept: identify the things that you can neither control nor influence, and adapt accordingly
Once you reach step 2, this where it becomes tricky as to find other people’s key and motivation to support you and your stakeholders in the same way you would aspire to, at the same speed and same level of efficiency. Exerting influence is not always enough but simply based on my experience, few things you can additionally do to Influence Without Control:
1- Build strong personal relations: Even in this digital age, people still enjoy the human part of the job, putting a face to the name, virtually by ensuring that video is on, or physically when possible. This creates that extra bond between people you work with. It is also important to connect and learn about them, their personal attributes, hobbies, interests and be curious about their differences. Remember, diversity is strength. Do not shy away from telling them about you, what you like, how you can help them too so they clearly see the value of that interaction and how you can win together. With that, most of the time people relate to each others’ needs, urgency and understand how their performance can and will impact yours.
2- Invest time in clarifying your business and business needs: Even if COEs have no direct link with your business, it is important that they stay close to it, understand the priorities and impact of change.
3- Agree on targets in terms of timelines and way of work: It is important to align on each other’s targets.That will help you manage your stakeholder’s expectations too.
In this digital world when everyone is remotely connected, it is worth remembering that people still crave for a human to human relationship and its crucial for a healthy working environment. Make sure to invest time in building those relations that would you Influence without control and get clearer sense of what you can and can’t accomplish. This enables you to focus your efforts where they’ll have the most impact.