Most project managers stick with one, for example, threaten the stakeholders by escalating to their leaders. If you do this because you haven't thought through your influencing options, you may get you the opposite results than what you want. Before you try anything, think through these:
- Clarify the results (what do you want and when - measure)
- Find Vital Behaviors (small behaviors that influence the results the most)
- Think about why the change is viewed as impossible (challenge the beliefs)
- Find sources of influence (build you coalition)
Vital Behaviors for Weight Loss
What are the 3 Vital Behaviors for losing 40 lbs and keeping it off?
- Weight yourself daily.
- Eat breakfast.
- Workout at home.
Here are the six influencing strategies from the book. Pay special attention to the headings. There are three types of influences: Personal (influencing self), Social(influencing others) and Structural (influencing interventions and processes). The two columns leverage Motivation (I want to do it) and Ability (I am able to do it). The six combinations are explained below.
Personal Love what you hate Do what you can't
Social Create accomplices Accomplices become friends
Structural What's the carrot? Build Fences
1. Personal Motivation: Love What You Hate
Cleaning up your dishes after you eat can be re-framed as showing you love your family, or make it into a game. Project status meetings can be tweaked to be quick standing updates. In our PM workshops we say that the most powerful thing you can do is consistently send status reports at the same time each week to your stakeholders. To them, whether they read the report or not, you'll appear to be organized and focused on what must be an important project.
2. Personal Ability: Do What You Can't
I'm guilty of assuming that others have a lack of motivation. Michael Ayers, a brilliant friend retired from 3M told me that 'if you have to explain something to someone more than three times, it's not ignorance, it's resistance'. If I believe that a person doesn't understand, I keep explaining it in new ways. If it's resistance, that will never work. Resistance requires influence. Figure out the Vital Behavior that will influence resistance.
3. Harness Peer Pressure: Create Accomplices
Peer pressure can provide incredible power to enact behavioral change. There are some really scary studies about what people will do with the support of peers. Engage Project Stakeholders as respected opinion leaders. Ask them questions and request their thoughts. You will soon have champion peers for your project.
4. Find Strength in Numbers: Accomplices Become Friends
Forio.com sells an organizational change simulation that teaches activities to do that influence change. As you play, you quickly learn that communication is the most critical and can take many forms. In today's multitasking day, many project managers are too busy to take the time to plan critical stakeholder communication. In the absence of a message, people always make up their own, and it's usually not positive. Leave a communication void, and reap the disengagement of stakeholders. Engage them by communicating in multiple ways - quick texts, pictures, online meetings, etc. to help spread your project message.
5. Design Rewards and Demand Accountability: What's the Carrot?
It is often said that what gets measured gets rewarded. We value what we measure, and sometimes we're measuring what is easy to measure rather than what's relevant. Why would anyone want to read mountains of Critical Path diagrams? In truth, are the project documents you're sharing with your stakeholders understandable from where they are sitting? Why should they care? Isn't that your job? Project Status meetings degrade into role recitation, and eventually become meaningless. Do something to make stakeholders want to participate - fun snacks, prizes, visual documents that don't paralyze the eyes - whatever it takes. If you aren't prepared for the meeting, cancel it.
6. Change the Environment: Build Fences
Sometimes simple changes in the project's physical environment can influence behavior. At NextGear, I visited a giant facility with two Agile teams in each office. They were encouraged to name their team, decorate their space and actually change it any time they wanted. This built an engaged team and the competition drove fun and innovation which landed on their project enthusiasm as well.