How To Influence Your Teams When You Have No Direct Control

Now more than ever we are experiencing many of our services being outsourced to third parties or we work in a virtual or matrixed organisation, where we frequently have to lead people over whom we have no direct control.

This can be challenging, particularly for those who have exclusively managed through direct control when resources are located in the same office or building.

One of the easiest ways of influencing when you don’t have direct control is through expectation setting.

It’s proven that teams and individuals often rise to meet the expectations that are set for them.

If we tell them that we expect them to succeed this increases their probability of succeeding, whereas if we tell them we think that they will fail, we often create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When we set a positive expectation, it also puts us into a position of accountability, as we will feel bad if the teams fail and we will look to help them if we can. It also puts the team in a position where, if they feel that we can help, they will come to us to ask.

So if you find yourself in a position where you don’t have direct control over the teams that you are dependent upon, then communicate clearly that you are very confident that they will succeed, and that if they need any help from you, they should feel free to ask.

I have had a very positive experience with this approach.

With one of the suppliers at a company where I worked we were having significant performance issues, and the teams had tried everything to get them to increase their quality and productivity, but nothing worked, there were some small improvements but not what we were looking for.

So we decided to take the approach that we would show that we had confidence in them to turn things around and that we believed that the issues would be resolved completely within six months.

What was unbelievable was, that 6 months to the day, all issues had been resolved.

By showing confidence in the supplier, we put them in a position where they had more belief and confidence in themselves and they looked to ask for support where they needed our help, which helped drive improvements.

Previously, they were embarrassed about their performance and tried to hide failures rather than communicate them early and get our help.

So just by expectation setting we had helped to turn around a failing situation. We had managed to influence even though we had no formal authority.

It’s amazing but true.

If you don’t believe me, give it a try, what do you have to lose?

If you want to learn more about creating highly engaged teams or being a better leader click the link to make an appointment to talk about how I can help.