In my book, Advocates and Enemies, I outlined the Stakeholder Influence Process as a means of achieving the influence you want in and around your work. What I didn’t elaborate on in the book was how you can also use this process to manage your team members and direct reports. If you believe that influence is a key part of their work, show them how to use the process. At your one-to-ones, you can ask them to talk through their progress by referring to the Stakeholder Influence Map.
Remember, this is a process of enquiry. It poses the questions around a simple structure to elicit new actions to advance towards the objective in mind. As such, it becomes a great coaching tool for your people — all you have to avoid is the risk of putting forward your own ideas about what they should be doing!
Here’s a quick approach you can follow…
- Ask them, “What is the most important thing which you need to influence over the next few months to achieve your goals?”
- Continue asking questions until you are sure they have clarified exactly how they will know they have succeeded.
- Then ask them, “Who has the most potential to either help or hinder your progress?”
- Show them the Stakeholder Influence Map, explain the dimensions and ask them to plot the people they think are important to their progress.
- Challenge their analysis and coach them to develop new actions they can take. My favourite challenge question is, “What one thing, if you could make it happen, would completely transform your progress?”
- At the next one-to-one, ask them to give you an update by making use of the revised map. Ask them to talk you through their progress and help them to develop further actions.
They may need several different stakeholder maps, one for each major objective their job involves, but you need to focus on the most important one during your time together. Depending on their level of competence, they could decide which one they need most help on (don’t forget the value of using Situational Leadership Styles). But, make sure they are using the process on all of their key objectives, not just the one they want your help on.
As a final note, be careful with this approach if your relationship with them is weak. Without doubt, you will feature on their stakeholder map; what if they want to place you in the Enemies box? Although it could make the meeting a little tense, you probably need to be dealing with these problems together in any case — being prepared is essential! On the whole, I am sure that using this process will provide them with a great deal more ownership and quickly start to increase their ability to influence without your help — empowerment in action.