Managing Without Authority And Survival Strategies English Language Essay

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In todays software and information technology business, practitioners are often faced with this expectation of leading a team of individuals without given the tangible authority, which is indispensible to succeed in it. These situations become more complex when organizations prefer matrix structures (for e.g. CISCO, IBM, P&G, Schlumberger, Nokia.) while those not preferring them try to imitate them seeing the success of the paradigm. These trends compel practitioners to find ways and strategies to learn the tricks of the trade to excel in such a dynamic work environment.

This paper focuses on going through some top issues the practitioners' face, effective recipes that make the whole idea work and definitely metrics that help to identify progress while following these strategies.

Index Terms-Result, leadership, matrix, tandem, superintending.


The situation comes into play when a practitioner's role is expected to informally superintend or supervise a team having a mixed set of skilled resources and the practitioner is just a part of the whole tandem framework of equals. The situation unfortunately demands from the person to understand the working ways and specific team dynamics and only understanding them clearly would allow the person to spearhead in such situations, literally, where the person is the so-called leader of a team who doesn't formally report to him/her. Additionally, the above situation tends to become all the more complex with more and more organizations adopting the matrix form of organizational structure that have secluded roles of line managers and project managers who are consistently in conflict of their expectations from the practitioner in question.

Thus being able to manage the expectations of the team and excelling in it and not forgetting the line managers, plus the project mangers make it an essential for the personal growth goals of the practitioner to be met.

Scope of the paper

The paper, first explains the concept of influence paradigm, which is later leveraged in several ways to suit the needs of the situation to act accordingly. Then it lays down a thinking model originally described by Allen R. Cohen and David L. Bradford, and relates it to the real world. While doing so a new model has been developed which strategically modifies earlier model into making it more repeatable and applicable to a wider group with aspirations to influence more than one person at a single time. Finally, the paper takes up some scenarios and tries to provide recipes in solving them in real life.

The readers are expected to read and relate this entire paper without any personal attachments, rather treat it as some set of strategies to logically approach any problem and take it to a resolution.


Webster explains Influence as "The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself." If you see its synonyms Webster also states that "authority" means something similar to "influence".

The paradigm is the ability to get help from a person or a group when you need it. The act that they are helping implies that you influence them. Several times though you do not receive the co-operation or the level of support you require from them, some times a straight no is what you receive. Sometimes it's even harder when you do not get a straight answer and you keep on waiting for the situation to happen in your favor. You actually know more about this paradigm of influence more than you think you do. Often have we not thought about these minor interactions and the have not given importance to this formal/informal exchanges that happen in all human interaction in some reasonable boundaries, but these exchanges is actually that one thing that binds organizations as a whole and establish the working flow towards day to day work.

There is the concept put by Cohen-Bradford about the simplicity of this idea of "give - and - take". Simple as it may sound the actual process of exchange is way more complicated and tiring than you think. It takes days but all such interactions. The situation becomes simpler and does not use your conscious analytical capabilities if you have a good relationship with your potential ally. It even does away with the necessary steps of application - careful planning of your approach, or subtlety of implementation.


Resistant team members.

You need something that is costly and non-negotiable.

Bad relationship and not cohesive yet.

Difficult Bosses/Peers.

Circumventing Political Pressures.

Making your situation better than it is now.


There are several consciously known and some inconspicuously unknown barriers towards influences that have already been present around us and listing some of them would make it easier to get into context.

External Barriers

Mismatching Goals: Conflicting or even dissimilar goals and priorities leads to difference in opinion about similar matters and precludes the inability to find a common ground. In an organizational viewpoint there are several people who would seldom care about what you are trying to achieve, in most cases letting them know is what even you would find unnecessary. Simply, because they are not interested shields them from being influenced by you.

High Power Differential: Influence is somewhat always related to the power quotient and it easy when it follows down a hierarchy. When you have a higher power differential than the one you are influencing then its obviously becomes relatively easy. How does it work when it's the other way round? People normally take a step-by-step approach spanned over months to reach that level of "acquaintance-relationship" where the power differential level is reduced to such extents so that there is a slight hope of being able to influence. This focus on influence always takes into consideration that you have "no better than equal" formal power in relation to the ones whom you want to influence. Several times unfortunately though, it has been the case that the difference is so high that there is little to contribute.

The Rewarding System: There is also another lurking situation where in influences do not tend to work very well is the scenario wherein the people you want to influence have incompatible performance 
measures and rewards. The lack of little latitude in the measurement system creeps in making them being accountable for and rewarding for things that do not help you directly or indirectly.

Rivalry: One of the most common, and most openly underrated external barrier to influence is that the one being influenced is a rival to you or feels competitive and does not want you to succeed. If you succeeding poses an issue towards them succeeding or failing to influence in their own endeavors, you may not be able to get help even if they know that would be good for the organization, the project or the people in the project. This particular aspect has been underrated as primarily because of the fact that, as professionals having these sentiments doesn't depict well in your image and affects your chances to carry out exchanges with your rival in future if the needs be. Some although have strong personal animosity and it unknowingly clouds their thought process and capability of fair judgment.

Internal Barriers

Obscuring Attitudes: If you have an attitude and a way of work; one very important attitude when you think that if a person does not come up-to speed within a certain timeframe, you just write off, assuming that there has to be certain deficiency in the person. In actual, you overlook the other things that the person is capable of, and tend to form this attitude towards this person which affects in either of two ways - either the person becomes hostile or you back off. Taking this stand and slowly giving into it results in you being obscuring your capabilities and the ability to see "outside the pinhole"

Tackling Inconsistent situations: During the process of influencing some of the influences take turns in directions not quite favorable for the person trying to influence. Failing to have a consistent understanding of the goals or priorities throughout the influence process makes it really hard to stick to the primary goal and often compromises are done which later seem to have more effect than what was originally perceived. This situation mostly happens because of the conscious idea of how to go about with it when the other person in the group is not responsive. For many such "influencers" - fail to understand that influence is form of exchange and often take decisions based on personal inclinations. Sometimes the influencer is not quite very clear about exactly what their goals are, who and how they have to influence to accomplish their goals. This leads to stressing the wrong things and getting hung up on secondary, often symbolic, issues.

Group Pressure: As influencers, people may often have to bring out something to the table that may not be taken well by the rest of the group. It is often that fear of rejection, or the potential of aggravating the decision process; they usually decide they can't go ahead.

The ORGINAL influece Model

Allen R. Cohen and David L. Bradford; both leadership experts and eminent academicians originally created the Influence Model, also known as the Cohen-Bradford Influence Model. This particular model lays down six basic steps of achieving Influence over others in a work environment.

Assume all are potential allies - The assumption that everyone whom you possibly want to influence is an ally to start with. This although seems very optimistic of you to think the world around you to be overtly safe and devoid of personal interests. This although broadens the applicability of the model towards any situation but there seems to be a factor of power difference which governs this ideology. Hopefully the revised influence model provides greater scope of success.

Clarify your goals and priorities - As discussed earlier, the give and take sentiment of all organizational relationships requires you to have the list of the goals which you want to achieve at all times. These goals are the only factor, which would enable you to be focused towards the actions you take regarding any influence you want to make. Making this list of goals also help you stay focused in the middle of an influencing activity and hardly lets you slip.

Diagnose the world of the Other Person - This enables you to understand what your potential ally would be willing to give and what he would not, itemizing the things you can be benefitted with towards achieving your goal is something that is of advantage here. This process of diagnosing a series of expectations and surrounding cultural influences can often reveal new potential ally's and a clear understanding of the other person's situation and the possible thought process he might have when you try to influence him.

Identify relevant currencies, theirs yours - Currencies are the objects, which are valued by your ally. Performing the previous step and being with the person and close assessment of his personality traits would enable you to understand the currencies he cares for. This particular step is the most important step for building influences. For the currency trade to happen, identifying relevant currencies is the most important step. And unlike their real life counterparts where every currency can be exchanged with another at a fixed rate, here the rate depends upon you and the rate at which your potential ally values them. This specific reason makes this step more crucial than others and determines the threshold of success for the influence being tried out.

Deal with Relationships - Relationship is the only thing, which would enable you to make the exchange smoother. The better the relationship you have the easier is to deal with the person. For situations where you do not know the person or the person has had some negative influences on you before you should first try to build the relationship quota unto a minimum threshold before which you can actually execute the deal. Building relationships can seem hard and time-consuming when we take this paradigm literally, but often in this give and take structure of currency exchange, relationships can be built faster that you think. The slightest chance of the ally hoping that you can be his so-called potential "ally" and minute pondering over the situation lays the foundation stone for the relationship to be built.

Influence through Give and Take - Finally influence through give and take, exchanging your currencies to theirs. It's a better deal if you loose less than you gain.

Pitfalls and Shortcomings

Assumption of all being potential allies directly depends on how much or how less is the power differential quotient between you and the potential ally. In situations where the power differential is too high, reports show that people have first taken time to lower the power differential by using more than one ally to reach the final target. During this process, often the people in question have lost some or most of the valued currencies in exchange of information or contacts.

Remedy: Assess the power differential well in advance and create a waypoint and assess the currency inflow/outflow possible at every stop in the waypoint. Then choose the most cost effective waypoint.

Diagnosis of the world of other person in real life is always iterative; it cannot be done once and forgotten. The issue gets more exaggerated in real life because of the time being spent in reducing power differential of the potential ally. Due to the level of uncertainty present in the initial phases of attempting to reduce power differential, failing to closely monitor the potential ally often creates information gaps, which lead to wrong choices during the give and take phase.

Remedy: Assess the world of the other person iteratively, and stay updated on the latest improvements in his world. Try and predict the possible turn around that might be expected during the give and take phase. The idea is to stay informed always.

Assumption of all being potential allies directly depends on how much or how less is the power differential quotient between you and the potential ally. In situations where the power differential is too high, reports show that people have first taken time to lower the power differential by using more than one ally to reach the final target. During this process, often the people in question have lost some or most of the valued currencies in exchange of information or contacts.

Remedy: Assess the power differential well in advance and create a waypoint and assess the currency inflow/outflow possible at every stop in the waypoint. Then choose the most cost effective waypoint.

Revised Influence Model

The above issues require modifying the overall primitive influence model into something that is more sustainable in the long run. The modification, although does not take care of its applicability towards a group and is still more specific towards focused individuals, still is able to do away with the basic inconsistencies that would help in improving the effectiveness of the model.

Following the remedies to overcome the pitfalls and shortcomings as stated earlier, two new steps were introduced called the Assess Power Differential and Identify Waypoints. One more additional change that was done to the original model was to have the "Diagnose the world of the other person" step to be a continuous process.

One noticeable change that has come up in the model is that the second step has a task of visualizing each step for all alternatives, this makes the rest of the process, except the final influence step to run in isolation in the influencer's visualization (2nd) step to identify potential cost effective strategies and take a call whether or not to go ahead with the final influence step.

In addition to this, how do we save on the effort of doing the cycle again for another potential ally? Mostly often the waypoint suggested for influencing the new potential ally would help greatly with the cost value analysis done earlier for some other ally. This aspect of the process can be leveraged with a simple knowledge base and the step where we "Diagnose the world of the other person" greatly forms to the inputs to this knowledgebase.


What are these currencies?

Cohen-Bradford defines this as - "The metaphor of currencies-which stands for something that is valued-can help you determine what you might offer a potential ally in exchange for cooperation." Because currencies represent resources that can be exchanged, they are the things that you exchange for acquiring influence. If you fail to have any currencies, that the other person values, there is no deal.

Are these contextually the same as the usual currencies?

We have talked about the currencies before, but we should be careful not to relate them to the currencies that have been familiar with in the real life. There is a spectacular difference in the meaning of currencies in this model.

Theoretically, real life currencies have fixed exchange rates for currency conversion and follow this rule

Currency A to Currency B - would take up say x units of currency A.

Currency A to Currency C to Currency B - would also take up x units of currency A.

Practically, you would have to pay some additional conversion charges but eventually the currency economics is maintained in such a way that you cannot gain money by hopping through currencies.

The currencies, which we talk about here, are way considerably different than the ones we know of. The value and the exchange rate of each currency are dependent on the person who rates it. Two people in a different situation would rate the value of the same currency differently.

Inspiration-Related Currencies

Inspiration-related currencies denote inspirational goals that provide meaning to the work a person a person is doing. People at all levels of organization strata increasingly value them.

Vision: Vision is perhaps the grandest of currencies. The ability to show the larger significance in your agenda. Portraying an exciting and luring vision including imparting of how to achieve it is quite motivating. Issues in front of the company's vision often see meager and people tend to come closer in achieving the vision with as much as interest as possible.

Excellence: Just like vision, excellence also forms a very inspiring currency. The opportunity to be part of something big, and ability to do it really well and the pride in having the chance to achieve something that changes the way things work, is itself is a valuable currency on its own. For people who love the pride, the chance to accomplish important work, and willing to satisfy the inner craftsman, within every one of us, is itself, very motivating. In this sense, this craftsmanship is not dead; it is only in hiding, waiting to be tapped. There are several worthy people who want to do high-quality work and this aspect can be used to define the currency value of excellence.

Moral/Ethical Correctness: Everyone is and wants to be morally, ethically and philanthropically correct, the situations in and around them makes them work differently. This self-image of being "right" and the inclination to value what is "right" lets these people respond to things that they feel are right. This personal image attaches these people to the cause and in turn can be used as a viable currency for these sets of people.

Task-Related Currencies

Task-related currencies are directly connected to getting the job completed and within a specific quality level. They somehow are related to the person's ability to perform in his or her assigned tasks or to the satisfactions that can arise from the accomplishment of the tasks.

New Resources: For managers, in organizations where resources are difficult to obtain, and specialty skills are prime needs - resources, as currencies are also equally important. The chance of obtaining new resources to help these managers to accomplish their goals equates into a currency, which would be necessary. In some organizations though these resources may or may not be directly budgetary; they could even mean only loan of people, space, or equipment.

Challenge: The level of challenge in the work being performed also formulates into a currency. The kind of tasks that provide a challenge or promote stretching is one of the mostly widely valued currencies in most organizations. For qualified resources challenge poses a consistent benefactor to the choice of continuing with the organization as well. "Challenge" has consistently among the top items in surveys of what is most important to employees about their jobs. In several organizations, it is a good thing and eventually a reward for working 80 hours a week on an incredibly tough project, that so, if successful chances are to get a more important project.

Assistance: As one grows though the levels of the organization, there are certain kens of tasks that one would be glad to shed. Perhaps some aspects of these tasks are the difficulties that are faced by them currently. Unreasonably demanding jobs in most organizations and more as one moves up the ladder assistance is particularly useful or for some reason, they will respond particularly favorably to anyone who can provide relief.

Organizational Support: This aspect is most valued by someone who is working on a project and needs public backing or behind-the-scenes help in selling a project to others. Also applicable to, one, who is struggling with an ongoing set of activities and who will benefit from a good word of solicitation with higher-ups or other colleagues. A positive word dropped at the right time to the right person can be very helpful in furthering someone's career or objectives. This kind of support is most valuable when the person receiving it is under fire and a colleague takes a public stand in support of the person or the project.

Information: Knowledge about the context is what enables you to choose the correct decision, out of the options you have. The more contextual information you have the more power drive you have to take the decision that helps you to attain your objective. Often people end up taking decisions based on the limited set of information they have, often again they end up knowing a new information during the process of influencing which voids their strategic position. It is always not possible to get answers to specific questions, but nevertheless it can be valuable currency, but broader information can be rewarding as well. Cultural pressures and operations knowledge of industry trends, customer concerns, top management's strategic views, or other departments' agendas is valued for its contribution to planning and managing key decisions. And insider/trusted information may be even more valued. Answers to questions like: What are management's top concerns? Who is in a better position than I am? What are the upcoming industry trends or the newest business strategies evaluations going on? This need of information can create opportunities for anyone who has access to valuable knowledge and is willing to share it. If the person you want to influence values this kind of information then you have an extra incentive to develop wide-ranging relationships throughout the organization. Paradoxically, the higher a person's position, the less likely he or she is to be aware of what is really going on in the organization and the greater the gratitude for being kept informed.

Position-Related Currencies

These currencies enhance a person's position in the organization and, thereby, indirectly aid the person's ability to accomplish tasks or advance a career.

Recognition. Several people gladly will extend themselves for a project when they believe their contributions will be recognized. Yet, it is very undignified how many leaders fail to spread the gain recognition around or resorts to the more frequent withholding recognition. Recognition has often played a big role when we order the currencies based on inputs from different employees across the IT industry They all recognized the importance of paying people off in this valuable currency.

Visibility: In an organization several ambitious employees realize that, in a large organization, opportunities to perform for or to be recognized by powerful people can prove to be a deciding factor in achieving future opportunities, credibility identification, information, or even promotions. This is often why, the task force members may fight over who will be allowed to absorb the visibility from higher-ups including favoring recommendations for top decision makers.

Reputation. Reputation is closely coupled and is a variation on recognition is the more generalized currency in the class of position related currencies. A good reputation, primarily often saves time. Also can it pave the way for lots of opportunities while a bad one can quickly shut the person out and make him/her difficult to perform. Building a reputation takes time, and the person has to have been exposed to a challenge and have shown persistence to live through it. Just like a person who has good press gets invited to important meetings, and he is consulted about new projects, and is considered to be important to have on your side when trying to sell ideas. A talented person with an unfortunate bad press, even one in a nominally important position, may be ignored or not asked for opinions until it is too late to make a real difference. Note that the actual ability is only partially related to reputation, at least in larger organizations, because very few do posses have direct knowledge of anyone's actual capacities. Those that do, obscure them for vested interests. Having a reputation also has the other side of the coin, "Sustaining the Reputation" - and in some situations these act as influences for decision-making and has potent consequences. Often, people at lower levels, who normally think that they have very little cuff, don't actually realize how much they can do to influence the reputation of a manager who by authority has more formal power. Speaking well or ill of the manager can make an enormous difference in reputation and, therefore, effectiveness. Managers should realize that a nasty comment about them from a secretary to the boss could create a bad impression that is difficult to overcome.

Insiderness: Employees often value being in the inner circle that can be leveraged into a valued currency. This is often disguised by using the term Trust, and in a formal language of speech trust is the word used to convey this concept. This however is bit different in the sense that trust is the coinage that guarantees you to be an insider in the whole system. The opportunity to be included in the important events, tasks, or plans can be valuable in itself. For some people this helps them gain their own sense of significance from being close to the action and extend themselves to obtain that kind of access.

Importance: Some people value the level of importance they have in the team, most of these people are silent and know their value. They do not go about verbalizing every aspect of their importance to everyone. This is variation to the standard currencies and the person who values importance would be normally the one key resource who is doing the actual work, no matter if its presented by someone else. This actual scenario is not shed so much light upon during day to day processes but is evident during critical decision making phases and the opinion of this important person is valued the most.

Contacts: As in any organization may of the work get smoother if there is a reference of a known person. Better termed as solicitation, contacts are extremely necessary for improving the network that can be approached when needed for mutually helpful transactions. Some people have buoyancy in their capacities to build satisfactory relationships once they have access. The organization member skilled at bringing people together benefits from facilitating introductions.

Relationship-Related Currencies

Relationship-related currencies are more connected to strengthening the relationship with someone than directly accomplishing the organization's tasks. That in no way diminishes the importance of the tasks.

Acceptance/Inclusion. Some people most value the feeling that they are close to others whether an individual or a group/department. This is similar to Insiderness but for people who are in an adhoc fashion used to leverage a particular task. Most of these relationship related currencies are positioned at the level of that workforce who actually targets at accomplishing the tasks assigned to them. They are receptive to those who offer warmth and liking (used as currencies by influencers). This is the reason why we often hear people saying - warmth and acceptance goes a long way in getting things done. The majority of the workforce is very amenable to these currencies and performs and sustain in performing such satisfactory transactions.

Understanding/Listening/Sympathy: Colleagues who are beleaguered by the demands of the organization, isolated, or unsupported by the boss, place an especially high value on a sympathetic ear. Mostly everyone is always glad for a chance to talk about the things that bugs him or her, this happens more lucidly when the listeners seem to have no axe to grind or are not too caught up with their own problems to pay attention. Indeed, sympathetic listening without advice is a form of action that many managers do not recognize because, by the nature of their jobs and personalities, they are oriented to
"doing something." They don't recognize that being listened to, in and of itself can be a valuable currency.

Personal Support: Applicable when a colleague is feeling stressed, upset, vulnerable, or needy, he/she will doubly appreciate-and remember-a thoughtful gesture such as dropping by his desk to inquire how he/she is doing, a kind word. Important than everything else is the gesture, no matter how awkwardly it might be expressed. Unfortunately, such personal gestures could miss the mark or sometimes be misconstrued as signs of more intimate interest or personal friendship than might have been intended. Although, genuinely kind gestures usually transcend misinterpretation.

Personal Currencies

These currencies could form an infinite list of idiosyncratic needs. They are valued because they enhance the individual's sense of self. They may be derived from task or interpersonal activity. We mention only a few that are common to many individuals.

Gratitude: While gratitude may be another form of recognition or support, it is a not necessarily job-related, and can be beyond the job. One that can be valued highly by some people who make a point of being helpful to others. This is a tricky currency because, even to those who desire it, it is easily devalued when overused.

Ownership: Another currency often valued by organizational members is the chance to feel that they are partly in control of something important or have a chance to make a major contribution. While this is akin to other currencies, for some people the chance to get their hands into something interesting is its own reward. They do not need other forms of payment.

Comfort: Finally, some individuals place high value on personal comfort. Lovers of routine and haters of risk, they will do almost anything to avoid being hassled or embarrassed. The thought of having to make a public fuss be the target of notoriety, or the recipient of anger and confrontation is enough to drive them to the ends of the earth. They are far less interested in advancement than in being allowed to do their job with a minimum of disturbance; you do them a valuable favor by protecting them from being bothered or by restricting outsiders' access to them.


Check if you are You Part of the Problem!

Often when we are dealing with someone who isn't cooperating the way you want him/her to cooperate, its easy as it is to blame the other person for the difficulties, it is also necessary to examine your own attitudes and behavior. There are always good chances that you have written the person off, posing a hindrance to the work he is doing or is expected to do. Keeping an open mind is the acceptable strategy to take and reevaluating the worth of the other person is the correct way to tackle the situation. Having initial strong negative feelings that turn off the person who then scorns you back.

Ideally problems do usually arise because of the doubt that has entered the relationship or because one person assumes the other's behavior is caused by bad motives. The standard textbook strategy to tackle such situations of the person being influenced is to avoid the mistrusted person, reducing the very contact that might inject new, more favorable data into the relationship. The vicious negative cycle ponders and the absence of favorable data then becomes a fertile breeding ground for more mistrust and negative assumptions.

"A related problem is that once you make a judgment about someone, it is very human to see only evidence that you are right and ignore everything else." Recommendations are to monitor yourself closely to be sure that you are not so caught up in self-justification that you prevent improvement in the relationship.

Assess the World of the Other Person to Understand the Causes of the Offending Behavior!

You should look as closely as you can at the organizational situation of the other person. Performing this exercise helps you not only to determine the other person's likely currencies but also understand more about the causes of such behavior. The more you are able to understand what is creating this behavior the more chances are that you can take effective decisions to resolve them. Instead of feeling indignant, you may be able to feel sympathy or empathy and use that to make a positive connection. Although, knowing the causes of behavior does not excuse bad behavior, and you are most certainly entitled to be disapproving, but that doesn't usually help make a better connection.

Downplay Personal Feelings and Start to Work on Relationship building!

Perhaps the most common attempt to fix poor relationships is to overlook feelings and concentrate on working together at some tasks. Possible joint accomplishments can improve trust and foster a better relationship, but is always gradual. The underlying problem is that whenever there is a poor relationship and neither party can order the other to engage in an effective cooperative task, they fail finding a task that can work well cooperatively. Mostly what happens is that the most dissatisfied person usually just avoids the whole agenda and deflects the other or stalls.

Inappropriately, the very problems that created the original problems are likely to get in the way of task collaboration. "This is similar to a divorcing couple trying to negotiate their own settlement. If they could talk reasonably with one another, the property would not be difficult to divide; but if they could talk reasonably, they probably wouldn't be getting divorced in the first place."2

Positively often the circumstances sometimes force people to work together, and they find that the task demands are so compelling that they can put aside their differences, and, as a by-product, an improved relationship emerges. When that happens, both parties are pleasantly surprised and the failed relationship can build from there.

Speak Directly about the Relationship Problems!

As spoken earlier that continuation of reduced contact increase the continuum of the affected relationship, the obvious solution is to increase the amount of contact and make a direct attempt to path the difficulties. When this is done well this can make a lot of difference in a way the two people deal with each other. In organizations, you may have frequently observed that people are reluctant to openly discuss their poor relationships.

Check the Degree of Animosity!

When prior animosity is too great between two people, it gets in the way of their working together on any possible task. The wrong feelings bubble to the surface at the slightest provocation and drive out real work that reduces productivity primarily because there is transition to come back to work. Any disagreement deadlocks decision-making, and both parties look for ways to prove how bad the other is-and how virtuous they are.

Assess how difficult Is It to Work Despite Bad Feelings!

Certain tasks can be done even when neither person likes each other at all. Although consciously they think they need the other person to do the job, often it is not the case. In conflicting situations they either deal with the task or manage to divide the work to avoid much contact, but still complete it. Where the level of dependency is low, the tasks are easily divisible this approach might work. Certain other jobs, however, require so much interdependence and free-flow of information that the task has to be critical enough to overcome the unpleasantness of working together. If it is impossible to get the work done, to make any exchanges because of bad feelings, then it will be necessary to work on repairing the relationship first or else the work can be temporarily be split to meet the deadlines.

Ironically, if somehow a good job is done, both parties may come to feel better about each other. Winning teams end up liking their teammates; losers look bad to each other.

Measure the Degree of Explicitness approved by the Culture and the Degree welcomed by the ally!

Matrix organizations and flatter organization hierarchies often foster an open style and do encourage the confronting differences of both tasks and interpersonal. Members of such organizations, by its governing policies are expected to let one another know what is on their minds, and anyone who doesn't speak up is considered to be weak and unduly constrained. When a person is unhappy with a colleague or boss in what he has done or said, he or she takes a direct face-to-face approach, using as much heat as is felt. Such category of organizations is able to settle problems quickly and everyone moves on to the next issues. For example, Intel, Microsoft, and General Electric, IBM - all have this kind of directness. Although occasionally such direct discussion can turn harsh and create defensiveness, its frequency and familiarity usually allows for self-correction.

Try to Fit between Styles!

The capability of matching your work style to the style of your colleague could increase potential effectiveness. But the way your work style interacts with the style of your potential ally is also an important factor in determining whether to directly address the relationship. While some prefer direct discussion about relationships, some others are too shy or uncomfortable to contribute in open deliberations of differences.

Ideally the objective you should follow is to size up what your colleague will receive well, and using that see if it fits your inclinations. If you are unable to get a good read ahead of time on his or her willingness, you could try broaching the subject tentatively and assessing the response.

Leave Your Negative Assumptions at Home!

It is vital to unfasten yourself from any negative attributions you are making about the ally's intentions. You have to adopt the idea that there is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for that person's difficult response, even if you can't conceive of what that might be. Again, setting aside your conclusion, try to move into inquiry mode to discover it so that you can take appropriate actions.

If you have tried to influence another person or group and aren't getting anywhere, again as already said resist the temptation to assume that there is something wrong with them. If you see that you are writing someone off as stupid, selfish, not interested in the company, or in some way defective, stop at once, step back, and ask yourself: "What might be going on to explain the behavior, and what currencies haven't I discovered that might give me some small area of common interests to trade with?". You might eventually have to conclude that the person or the group is indeed defective, but the odds are poor that it is true, and once you do it, it will be extremely difficult to gain a trusting relationship or find a way to make satisfactory trades.

Ask the Person the Causes of the Exact Behavior You Don't Like!

Once you are done setting your negative assumptions at home, its time to genuinely explore the world of your ally. On doing so you are expect to diagnose the factors that might cause difficulties to start to make direct inquiries You can now more objectively begin to diagnose the factors in the situation that might be causing the difficulties and start to make direct (but nonjudgmental) inquiries about that world. Asking "You often move out of the meeting room on your heels and get out fast without saying anything and that is bothering me. What's that about?" instead of "What is your problem, I see you going out of the meeting room every time I discuss something?" is the direct way of asking but carefully choosing the words underlying them.

To be able to further assuage the situation adding, "Am I doing something that makes you want to leave?" This effectively reduces the likelihood of defensive denials and makes real exploration possible. This doesn't always although work; and in most cases the other person will be unwilling to even admit that there is a problem. The relationship may feel so strained, the colleague may be so convinced you are incorrigible, or he or she may be so resistant to discussion of negative feelings that even your open admission of possible fault gets nowhere. However, directness remains the best bet for increasing willingness to explore a relationship problem.

Moving to Joint Problem Solving-But Some Sticky Issues!

You have opened up the dialogue with the person with whom the relationship is strained and perhaps have a better sense of what is behind the behavior.

S1) "You Are the Problem."

The person says, "You always want to be dominant and win, and don't give me a chance to talk". Whereas earlier you were fighting not to make a negative attribution of the motives, the person has now done that to you. Now the situation takes a dynamic change and now you are to blame. The question here is you should hold down your defensiveness at these attributions and not get into a mutual accusation brawl.

Instead, you make your own world visible? There would be several forces and assumptions that led you to the behavior or the style that you choose that this potential ally is not happy about? Strategically (on a need to know basis - now is) you can you help the person see your framework in the same way that you have seen the others, that is, with understanding, if not acceptance?

Be careful that you do not end up making excuse, for a person who has termed you as incorrigible; there is hardly any chance that he/she would listen to your clarification. The idea is to be as convincing and trustworthy as possible by providing acceptable reasons. Your objective underlays you to be clear about what have been going on with you so that the ally will have accurate information about the world that is shaping you. That will allow you both to find ways to overcome differences or reach an agreement about how to work together.

S2) "I Don't Want to Talk about This."

Another trap is a refusal to discuss this. There are few things more dangerous than agreeing to disagree, which doesn't resolve the issue but drives it underground where it will only simmer and explode again at an inopportune moment.

Persuasion skills come to play here wherein the objective is to increase the desire to deal with your relationship difficulties. Here you are describing a new type of exchange where it should be evident that the benefit of resolution outweighs the cost of sticking in and dealing with these difficult interpersonal issues.

S3) "You Started It."

Never spend your efforts in analyzing who started it and do not start the usual finger pointing play, this never takes you anywhere and the interpersonal difficulties often come out in the wrong way elevating the spoiled relationship more than resolving it. It also can be useful after the issues are out on the table to say, "Let's not worry about the past; let's try to build for the future." Describing the potential payoffs to both of you from what the interaction could be can help move away from the mutual accusation game.

Don't wait for Problems before Bothering with Relationship Building!

It is very much difficult to build a good relationship when there is a direct problem between you and the other person. People who are effective influencers try to use every opportunity-including incidental contact, task forces, needs to gather information, and even sitting down next to strangers at lunch and chatting-to primarily build the connections before they have to ask for anything.

Don't Anticipate that no approach will work, so Holding Back Too Long!

Everyone knows some types of people whom they don't expect to be able to connect with, whether it is being crusty, people who are intimidating, confident and ambitious folks, seemingly standoffish colleagues or some other type. It is tempting to assume that the difficult person is immovable and avoid any approach. This is what takes the situation to such a level that it becomes hard to resolve the issue beforehand. But avoidance only makes it more difficult to connect later.

Don't Save up Frustrations and Explode!

Several times the fear of saying something negative to a difficult person leads to holding back and this causes the events to fume up. The saved up frustrations for previous events pile up gradually and then at one point when some small event happens, causes an outburst that can make an affected relationship totally dissolve. The idea is to fix relationship problems close to their origins.

Try free-market Trades: Clear Mutual Gain!

Considering both the sides are ready to see the advantages of the outcome of the exchange. If both parties treat just like exchanging favors, neither side is actually doing the other any exceptional favor; value is exchanged for value. Free-market exchanges can work even when a good or longstanding relationship does not exist.

Build a model of How Cooperation Helps the Potential Ally to Achieve Goals, More importantly explain!

There can still be mutual benefit if you show how cooperating with your request will help the potential ally achieve other goals.

What might surprise you, however, is the orthodox belief that your ally's effectiveness is part of your job, and you are somehow responsible. You should help you ally to be a better ally to you. Whether you or your ally see it that way, you are partners in making your organization or team work better.

Here instead of the usual maintaining a supervisor-supervisee relationship a partnership often works better.

Partners help their partners not to make:

Not to make huge mistakes

Them look bad

Go uninformed when you know things the partner should know

Partners instead:

Are loyal to the objectives.

Value the organization more than individuals.

Value differing skills and perspectives and take advantage out of it.

Tolerate each other.

Not assume that bad behavior comes from bad intentions but rather 
from misinformation or misguided views.

No self-respecting partners could stand silently by when other partners, no matter how high-ranking, are about to make a costly mistake, overlook important prospects, or miss vital information that could affect success. It is the obligation of a partner to be as responsible as possible, even at the risk of personal discomfort or embarrassment.


Dr. Eduardo Miranda (CMU): Thank you for periodic insights on effective team management.

Philip Bianco (SEI): Thank you for demonstrating real life examples for utilizing conflict-settling strategies for effective leadership.