!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: A Comprehensive Approach to Exercising Influence

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Comprehensive Approach to Exercising Influence

In the Fall 2008 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review, Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield of the consultancy VitalSmarts, and Andrew Shimberg of nGenera Talent, present a straightforward model of influence that can be quite helpful in situations where people need to be willing and able to change their behavior to fit new circumstances.

In "How to Have Influence," Grenny, Maxfield, and Shimberg (GMS) analyze a simple taxonomy of sources of influence in which the willingness (motivational) and ability components of influence each operate at three levels: the personal, the social, and the structural (non-human).

Thus, the GMS taxonomy consists of six sources of influence. GMS list questions to ask (here slightly edited) in assessing whether and how to tap each of these sources in particular situations:

Personal motivation to change — "link to mission and values," i.e., "help people see the broad implications of their actions and choices" and "help them connect the changes to their deeply held values." Ask:
  • In a room by themselves would people want to engage in the behavior?

  • Do they hate it or enjoy it?

  • Do they find meaning in it?

  • Does it fit into their sense of who they are or want to be?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "identified the aspects of the change that were boring, uncomfortable or painful and found ways to either eliminate them or make them more pleasant."

Personal ability to change — "a robust training initiative is at the heart of almost all successful influence strategies." Ask:
  • Do they have the knowledge, skills and strength to be able to do the right thing?

  • Can they handle the toughest challenges they will face?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "gave guided practice and immediate feedback until people were sure they could engage in the new bahaviors in the toughest of circumstances."

Social motivation to change — "harness peer pressure." Ask:
  • Are other people encouraging the right behavior or discouraging the wrong behavior?

  • Do people whom others respect model the right behaviors at the right time?

  • Do people have good relationships with those who are trying to influence them positively?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "identified people who would be most concerned about the changes, and made sure they were involved early."

Ability to exert social influence — "create social support." Ask:
  • Do others provide the help, information and resources required — particularly at critical times?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "created 'safe' ways for people to get help without feeling embarrasssed or being put on the spot."

Structural contributions to motivation to change — "align rewards and ensure accountability." GMS caution that it is generally best "to use incentives third, not first. Otherwise, you might acutally undermine people's intrinsic motivation." Ask:
  • Are there rewards — pay, promotions, performance reviews or perks?

  • Do rewards encourage the right behaviors and costs discourage the wrong ones?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "adjusted the formal rewards system to make sure people had incentives to adopt the new behaviors."

Ability to apply structural influence — "change the environment." Ask:
  • Does the environment — tools, facilities, information, reports, proximity to others, policies, work processes — enable good behavior or bad?

  • Are there enough cues and reminders to help people stay on course?
Example of a successful strategy: Leaders "reorganized people's workplaces to remove obstacles and to make the change convenient and easy."

(Note that two earlier posts discuss an influence model that addresses situations in which one must exercise influence without authority.)


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