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Episode 376: Influence Without Authority (Free)

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Kristine Munson
Kristine Hayes Munson and Cornelius Fichtner

Sharp influencing skills are a major factor that help project managers succeed. This interview about leading without authority with Kristine Hayes Munson was recorded at the 2016 PMI® Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation "Getting Things Done -- Influence Without Authority". Here is the abstract:

"Project managers frequently face the dilemma of how to accomplish the project’s work without having any functional authority. Resources assigned to the project report to someone else who writes performance appraisals and recommends pay increases. In addition, resources may be assigned to multiple projects with competing priorities. Project managers must rely on their ability to influence others to get work done in a timely and thorough fashion.

This paper explores the influence cycle and the associated skills to be used by project managers in order to get things done using influence rather than authority. Five stages comprise the influence cycle: (1) prepare, (2) ask, (3) trust, (4) follow up, and (5) give back."

The paper concludes that in regards to leadership without authority "Developing influence skills is hard work and takes conscious effort. The influence cycle is designed to be repeated for each project in order to help us as project managers continue to improve our influence skills. Our success as project managers and the success of our projects depends on our ability to use influence to get things done".

Click to download the white paper

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. We are coming to you live from the Solutions Center here at the 2016 PMI Global Congress in sunny San Diego in Southern California and with me here at the table is Kristine Hayes Munson.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Kristine!

Kristine Hayes Munson: Hello, Cornelius.

Cornelius: I would like to congratulate you for ten years of being the number one person on my website. You get most of the hits. At this point, your Episode #34 that we recorded over ten years ago has 70,000 clicks.

Kristine: That’s amazing!

Cornelius: Yea, and that’s only since we last updated our website. So there are probably 100,000 hits that are missing because we changed the content management system at some point. So it is absolutely great

So this is in fact our 10, almost 11-year anniversary because in Episode #34, you and I talked about getting things done. To be precise, it was on May 27, 2006 that that interview was published and I just checked our download statistics for the interview itself, last month it still had 60 downloads. So, every month people are downloading. Again, you’re the number one hit on the website and you are probably the number one hit when it comes to downloads.

Kristine: That’s amazing because it seems like just yesterday I had the cycle and I’m like coming to you and saying, “Does this make sense?” and you spent a lot of time with me helping me kind of refine some of my ideas and it’s amazing how even if it has been ten years, things haven’t changed that much. The basic idea of having to use influence and authority is still very relevant and still a challenge that we as project managers face every day.

Cornelius: Right. So, let’s go back ten years. Why did you start to come up with this “Getting Things Done” idea and we have to make clear this is not GTD that is an administrative and a task management system that somebody else has come up with. This is your cycle of how a project manager can get things done, leadership without authority, influencing without authority, getting projects done without authority.

Kristine: This idea originally came up because I have been asked to get a presentation on how do you navigate through an organization’s politics? And I was trying to think about how do I really do that and I was trying to come up with some way that was meaningful to communicate without this big pontification of “This is how I do it and you should do it this way” so I put together this cycle because every good consultant needs a cycle to be able to talk about—and I obviously was very influenced by Deming that I was reading at the time with the idea of his Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle.

How does that work for a project manager who has the influence without authority question who had to work through this huge bureaucratic organization or maybe even a small organization and deal with politics? And so it started off as a very simple model. I thought it would be one-and-done presentation and it kind of took on a life of its own. It’s been pretty amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to share this model through PMI Chapter events, local conferences as well as other professional associations and it always seems to really resonate with people the idea that there are tools and techniques out there that I can use to get things done.

Cornelius: The model itself, hasn’t changed, the cycle, has it?

Kristine: It has not. Some of the points I used to illustrate it have changed over time but the model itself, it was a stroke of inspirational genius. I don’t know how I came up with it. I can’t say that I can ever duplicate that again but it has really proven. I have never had anybody come up to me and say, “I just don’t get your model, it just doesn’t work for me”. It’s always been really positively well-received.

Cornelius: Excellent.

Kristine: It’s been very exciting for me.

Cornelius: Let’s look at it from a very high perspective. What will the model help me as a project manager do?

Kristine: The goal of the model is to help you figure out who the right person is to do the right thing at the right time so you can deliver the right results to get the business value that you need for your project.

Cornelius: Excellent. And it is a circular model.

Kristine: Absolutely.

Cornelius: Alright!

Kristine: Because it repeats, you’re never done. This building your relationship with others is an ongoing never-ending task that takes work and investment.

Cornelius: Okay. Tell us the back story. Tell us your experience that then led to developing this model as a project manager.

Kristine: So I worked for a financial services firm that is a fairly large organization. I’ve worked for a very small division within that organization and I was being asked to manage projects that were large and the fact that they involved people who were both here where I am based as well as in our corporate office as well as team members offshore in Europe and so I had to figure out a way to basically navigate the bureaucracy and to figure out who I needed to be working with and to have those relationships so that my project had a chance of success and getting people to work on things for someone they might not have even met face to face.

Cornelius: And just for full disclosure here, we have to say that at the time that Kristine developed this, she and I worked together. You were my boss at the time.

Kristine: I was!

Cornelius: Yeah, Exactly! Alright! So let’s open up your presentation and let’s look at the model. What is step 1 in the model?

Kristine: The whole model is predicated on the idea of exchange. That you need something for your project and that you need to be able to exchange with the person you need. They need something too. What’s with them from somebody else? So the model is a five-step model and it’s a very simplistic model. Prepare, Ask, Trust, Follow-Up and Give Back.

Cornelius: Prepare, Ask, Trust, Follow-Up and Give Back. Okay.

Kristine:   Correct. Prepare, just like planning for project managers is really the heart and soul of the model, meaning you’re spending the most time on that process even though on a circular model it’s hard to show that one process takes longer time than others. Think of Prepare as planning.

You got to do your homework upfront before you can move through the rest of the model. So, when you’re preparing, you’re preparing basically in three ways:

 The first one is you have to prepare yourself. Think about when you’re on the flight. We’ve all flown somewhere and the flight attendant says, “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help your child”. You have to take care of yourself first and that talks about the idea of having emotional intelligence and the idea of being able to focus on what is important and just taking that time for yourself that you need to be a good leader.

The second thing is to build your network and I know that many relationships of PMI members so they are all familiar with the idea of network, network, network all the time. The idea of networking in this particular case is to get to know people within the organization not necessarily people external to your organization or people who would potentially be stakeholders on your projects. So it could be clients or vendors.

One of the things that I’ve discovered over time and that I’ve added to the presentation since we first talked about is when you’re talking about networking, it’s a very controlled activity and I found an article in the Harvard Business Review that talked about mapping your network to see how robust your network really is and what you needed to do to move your network forward.

Cornelius: And when they say mapping your network, literally drawing it out.

Kristine: Well ask those key questions. For example, “How central am I in my organization’s informal network?” Do people come to me and ask me questions about what’s going on in the organization? Am I knowledgeable enough to answer these questions? Not gossiping, right? But having knowledgeable management–based answers or “Do I have people in my network cross-connected?” So, as you mentioned, we’ve worked together previously, “Have I introduced you to others because you’re part of my network that have similar interest or could help you with your professional pursuits so that my network is cross-connected?

And also the other thing that they talk about this model is to ask about: Are you friends or have your networked or connected with the people who are change resistors so the people who might not really love your project. It’s really easy to network and be friendly and do that coffee stuff or go out to lunch with somebody who is supportive of your projects and what you’re trying to accomplish but the person who’s the resistor or the person who might even just be the fence sitter sometimes, we don’t take care of them. So we need to make sure we include those on our network.

Really the only way we can really answer all these questions is you have to have a friendly third party, a mentor or someone who’s going to be willing to give you feedback from your organization and say, “Yup, you’re doing a good job. Your network is right on target.“ You know you really don’t know the right people. You really need to know these people over here because they really are change resistors and you should get to know them a little bit better and they can help guide you of who you should know but you do need that third set of eyes, second set of eyes on your network to be able to see what’s going on. That’s a fair powerful tool rather than just networking just so that I can have 500 contacts on LinkedIn or that type of thing. You really need to know what you’re doing with your networking.

So after you’ve prepared yourself and you’ve built your network, then you want to start talking about really getting to understand your organization and understanding how decisions are made in your organization, what data is required to make decisions and more importantly, how do the informal conversations influence those decisions.

So, the proverbial meeting before the meeting, who do you need to talk to before you meet with the decision makers to get that conversation? And it might not be the decision-maker him or herself that you need to meet with but who did you talk with before you get to that point of: “I’m going to make the decision” and also to know who that decision maker is? Where does the buck stop at? The buck stops here. Who is that? Who is going to make that final decision for you? One of the comments that I heard on one of the sessions I attended here in the Global Congress was projects move at the speed of decision-making and I thought that was very true.

Cornelius: Interesting. I have never heard that.

Kristine: And I haven’t either. I totally wrote down a circle because that was an amazing thought. The idea that we have to be able to know how the decision-making process works so we can move our projects forward.

Cornelius: Alright! Is that everything under Prepare?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Tags: PDUs: Leadership, Project Manager Soft Skills, PMI Global Congress, PMI Global Congress NA 2016, Influence without authority

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