In this issue:
If you want to change anything in your organization, you need to influence at least one other person to succeed. I wrote about showing your competence in Part 1. Part 2 was about building trust. Now, let's talk about creating win-wins with shared interests.
I bet you've met people who want to win at “all costs.” They assume that if they win, you lose. Or, the other way around. They tend to play zero-sum games. (See Do You Have an Abundance or Scarcity Mindset?)
But the best influence conversations arise when both people meet some of their objectives. How can we both gain progress on our great goals, considering both the short-term and the long-term? Is there a way for us both to succeed?
Here are three “secrets” to developing shared interests:
Secret 1: Generate at Least Three Alternatives
How often do you develop at least three alternatives for a given problem? It's too easy to take the first idea we see. Instead, when people learn how to Solve Problems with the Rule of Three, they create more possibilities.
Those possibilities allow us to see our shared interests. Especially if we generate alternatives together.
Secret 2: Explain What's Great About Another Alternative
I have great ideas. You do, too. With any luck, we generated these three or more alternatives together.
And, sometimes, I have my idea, you have your idea, and someone else generated the third idea. And, because we didn't generate these three ideas together, we might each be attached to our ideas.
That attachment isn't terrible—but that attachment makes it difficult for us to decide on our shared interests. That's when I ask the people to explain what's terrific about not-their-alternative.
When we try to explain what works about someone else's idea (and they do the same), we often explore the problem space more. We might even see yet another option.
This secret is not about relinquishing our ideas. It's about seeing the value in a different idea.
Secret 3: Explain the Possible Problems with My Alternative
If I were perfect, all my ideas would be perfect, too. My ideas would work all the time and life would be full of unicorns, rainbows, and happiness.
I am not perfect. I am human. And, you are, also. (Thank goodness!)
Instead of looking for our perfections, we can look for our imperfections. Not to denigrate our ideas, but to build on them.
To continue the story in Part 1 and Part 2, Mary encountered another problem in her organization's agile transformation: Elissa, the HR VP, wanted the managers to use a formal performance management approach with the people the managers served. The managers would offer feedback every month, and a formal performance evaluation every year. Elissa was sure that would work.
- Formal feedback once a month wasn't frequent enough. People need feedback frequently during a given week.
- The managers in an agile transformation didn't know enough about what the people did. The managers could not be the primary source of feedback.
The managers couldn't lead the performance management work. And, Mary had grave doubts about the value of that “performance management.”
Mary asked Elissa if she'd every seen any other approach to performance management. Elissa said no, she had not.
Mary asked Elissa what she wanted as outcomes from the performance management activities. Elissa's answer:
- That everyone received feedback (reinforcing or change-focused) to know how they were doing on a regular basis.
- That the organization could see if someone needed help or retraining or refocusing or something if things were not going well.
Mary asked if Elissa was willing to consider alternatives to manager-based performance management. Elissa was a little nervous, but said she was willing to listen.
After much discussion, Mary and Elissa generated these alternatives:
- That every person receive feedback from someone at least once a week.
- That every person offer feedback to someone at least once a week.
- That every person offer reinforcing feedback to someone at least once a week.
Elissa wasn't quite willing to give up the idea of a yearly performance review, but she was willing to see if the culture changed with this experiment.
Because people focused on reinforcing feedback, the feature teams and the management teams saw improved results. Performance management doesn't have to focus on problems—we can add the ideas of reinforcing what works.
Notice that Mary used her competence, the trust she'd built, and now, the ability to create shared interests with Elissa. And, the teams are finding it's easier to work on the projects. Influence is a great way to help people focus on one common goal with shared interests.
I hope you enjoyed this 3-part influence series. Too long? Too short? Too frequent? Let me know what you think. Thanks.
If you want to practice your influence, please join Gil Broza and me at the Influential Agile Leader, May 6-7, 2020 in Boston. You'll learn by practicing and discussing your challenges with like-minded colleagues. You have until Feb 29, 2020 for the early bird rates. Questions? Email me.
Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.
Here are links you might find useful:
- My Books. (BTW, if you enjoyed one of my books and you have not yet left a review, please do. Thanks.)
- Online Workshops
- Managing Product Development Blog
- Create an Adaptable Life
- Johanna's Fiction
Till next time,
© 2020 Johanna Rothman
Tags: change, collaboration, influence, leadership, problem solving, rule of three, transition to agile