How to Influence Without Authority
Ever had to get people to contribute to a project, even though you’re not actually their manager? Tough job, isn’t it? Managing people without being in a position of power over them can be a daunting task, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you. But there are ways you can get your colleagues to help you in your job without the need for the carrot or, well, the stick.
(Photo Credit: vuhung/Flickr)
1. Why would YOU do it?
Before you approach another person with your project request, first try and answer their question yourself. If you were asked by another colleague to work on their project when it didn’t really help you in your rating or your career, would you? What would make you want to do it? That’s the first step to the approach you should take in reaching out to your colleague. Answer the question for them.
2. Seek help, not adherence
When you are reaching out to your colleague for help, let them know what you want them to help you with. Don’t spend too much time on how you want it done, unless specifically asked. Micromanaging when you’re not the manager is not the best way to get someone to help you. Don’t follow up too much either; share a project plan and the timelines you are working with and then back off.
3. Offer help
If you’re giving them more to do, offer them help with their work. Let them know that you are empathetic towards their schedule and commitments and are willing to offer help; if you are unable to help, offer resources. Your colleague may or may not take you up on your offer, but the important point is that they will recognize that you have the intention to offer support.
4. Acknowledge their effort
When your project is done or when you’ve reached a huge milestone, thank the people that helped you, even if they’ve done very little or you had a tough time getting them to contribute. When you acknowledge their contribution, you’re setting up the stage for future meetings and a healthy work relationship. You don’t balk at giving credit!
5. Keep them updated
Just because they’re not working on the larger project, doesn’t mean they want to be kept in the dark about the results of their efforts. Send regular updates with the option for them to unsubscribe.
A colleague of mine used this message, which I found very helpful:
“I am sharing these updates as a means of keeping you informed of the progress of the project, as you are involved in some capacity in the project. If at any point you feel that the messages are too frequent or are no more relevant to you, please let me know and I will try my best to keep your preference in mind for all future communication. Thanks for all your help thus far and look forward to our renewed collaboration.”
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Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
Padmaja Ganeshan-Singh is a freelance writer and an HR professional with extensive experience in employee relations, talent management and career development. She can also talk endlessly on the merits and demerits of forced distribution and pay for performance. In her free time, she tries to figure out the personality type of people she meets using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. INTJ anyone?