Influencing without Authority – leveraging information

So after the intro and blogs on Expertise and Resources, let’s focus on Information as a source of influence.

Having a level playing field on knowledge about critical information is a must. If team members are not informed of key information, it’s impossible to move in the same direction together. You have information that others need and for sure they also have information you need. When you are leading, part of your role is to not only share information but to ensure you are facilitating information sharing by all team members.

What and how information is communicated will make a huge difference not only in how successful a project is, but also the level of stress that accompanies it. So now we come back to the basics of project management and communication I mentioned in my intro. Here’s the schema again for reference.

Let’s start with the what. Having a project plan with clearly documented objectives, dependencies, roles and responsibilities is a must. This ensures each team member understands what success looks like and is clear on how their role fits into the overall project. Whether or not you are directly responsible for the project plan, you can ensure it includes the critical information you’ll depend on.

Remember that there is a lot of industry, domain, and organization specific vocabulary out there. Try to level set early on and regularly when introducing vocabulary to the team to ensure that everyone understands things the same way. The same goes for deliverable outputs. Sharing specific examples of the required deliverable/output goes a long way to ensuring that each person understands exactly what is expected from them and is able to accurately judge the amount of time they will need to deliver.

Regarding the how – in a complex environment, it’s hard to get everyone to a meeting or call. And frankly, we do know that people behind their phones are not always as attentive as we need them to be. That means it’s important to check back with your audience on calls to ensure a critical point was understood. I highly recommend leaving a written trace of key information after calls. Document decisions, actions, deadlines etc. in writing and not only verbally on calls.

Finally, if you are the only one talking on calls or in meetings, you are missing a lot. Make sure you are asking questions and listening actively – it’s not only a good way to keep people engaged on calls, it’s the best way to ensure you know everything you need to know from others. Attitude is also a big part of the how. We’ll get to that in the final blog of the series, but before we get there, stay tuned for Relationships.