Five Strategies to Help You Manage Well Without Authority

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Sandra came to me with questions about a new project she had been assigned to lead. She would be responsible for her teams’ performance for the new initiative but was concerned about how to keep the individual members motivated since they would not be reporting to her directly. How could she manage well without authority?

“I’m not responsible for their careers,” she explained. “I’m not responsible for their performances beyond the project outcomes, so I don’t have the usual fears or promises of promotions as motivators. I’m not sure how to make this work,” she stated.

The situation my client described is a typical scenario. An increasing number of companies today use the matrix model of management, managing employees with more than one reporting line, or across business groups. Under these circumstances, team leads are responsible for team performance in the project outcomes but have no other authority. As in Sandra’s situation, the inherent challenge is to engage and motivate employees who report to someone else.

As I say in my book, “The New Global Manager,” you must accomplish your mission through the group. People say this in many different ways. They say you must “make your numbers” or “hit your targets” or “achieve your goals.” However you describe it, you must do it through your team. So, you need to help the people who are on your team grow and succeed. Great managers have always been coaches and mentors. They’re always looking for ways to help their team members do better in their present job and prepare them for their next move.

‘Leadership without authority’ is an emerging concept gaining traction in social, academic and business circles,” writes Russ Banham. “In fact, type those three words into Google, and more than 6.5 million results pop up. A shelf of books has been written on the subject, and courses are even being taught to achieve its graces. Not only that but leading without authority has been espoused by such diverse organizations as the American Chemical Society and the National Center for Cultural Competence,” he adds.

How do you lead without authority?

The goal of leadership without authority is to get others to willingly cooperate and engage, rather than following directives because you’re the boss,” writes Carol Kinsey Goman. “This new style of leadership is a blending of personal and interpersonal skills that form the basis of a leader’s ability to impact, influence, and inspire others.”

As I explained to Sandra, managing well without authority is entirely possible–and people do it all the time these days. We all have certain levels of influence in our work. Some have the influence that ties to their position; some have authority based on their expertise or resources. And everyone can develop influence by building strong relationships. In situations like Sandra’s, relationships are central to the success of her project. I gave Sandra the following five strategies to help her manage her project team.

Five strategies to help you manage without authority

1. First of all, you need to understand what motivates the team. What is each team member’s motivation for being successful? One may be driven by the promise of earning more money, while another is excited to be able to make contributions. Are your team members motivations intrinsic, meaning that he or she will take action because it is personally rewarding, or are they extrinsic? “Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment,” writes Kendra Cherry.

2. Create visibility for your team. Talk to the managers who are responsible for your team members’ careers about what they’re doing. Find ways to support and praise the team publicly. Advocate for them and help create visibility company-wide.

3. Hold discussions with the team at the outset. Set the expectations about communication channels; how you will communicate with each other and how the team is expected to communicate with you. Explain what hours you expect they will be available and what channels they will use to reach you. Be specific about the kind of information you expect to receive and how frequently you anticipate hearing from them. Make it clear that you are very interested in keeping communication open at all times.

4. Define the roles and responsibilities for your team. Take the time to represent what you expect from each of them clearly, and tie those expectations into the motivators you have determined will be effective for each person. Establishing clearly defined roles and responsibilities lessen the chances of duplication of effort or frustration between the various people you are managing on the project.

5. From the beginning, help the team understand that you’re willing to support their image and brand. Be transparent. Let them know that you will foster, network and generally be supportive of them, so they know that they’re not working in an isolated bubble. Remind them that just because they aren’t reporting to their manager for this project doesn’t mean there isn’t company-wide visibility, organizational visibility and their reputation at stake. Help them understand that their behavior and their performance in this project can and will impact them positively or negatively in the larger company setting.

Sandra took these strategies into her work on the new project and was able to build significant relationships with each of her team members. She reported that they were nearing completion and had every expectation of hitting most of the project expectations successfully. She was also pleased to report that she had already been instrumental in helping further several of her team members’ career goals, and she felt very good about that.

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A version of this post was first published on Inc.

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The One Critical Element Missing in New Manager Training

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Sarah was beside herself with excitement when she learned she was being promoted to her first management position. It was everything she had worked so hard for, and she was determined to be the best manager possible. Her company’s new manager training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding her role and what her responsibilities would include, communicating her expectations clearly, and delegating responsibilities.

However, Sarah’s new manager training program was missing any discussion of how to deal with difficult people. Nothing on conflict resolution and dealing with difficult people–which left her unprepared for the challenges she would soon face.

Her early days in her new position went well, and she was thrilled to see the people she was leading respond to her direction. The honeymoon ended when two of her direct reports starting arguing in meetings and causing dissension among the team members.

As Sarah told me during a coaching session, “I was so confused. I did not know how to deal with the situation, and it escalated and started impacting the morale and productivity of the entire group.” I quickly reassured her that her situation was not uncommon and helped her develop strategies to address the conflicts her employees were creating.

The reality of workplace conflict

According to a global study, “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive,” an overwhelming majority of employees at all levels (85 percent) experience conflict to some degree. The research, published by CPP Inc., found that U.S. Employees spent 2.8 hours per week involved with conflict, which they estimated as representing approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008–or the equivalent of 385 million working days.

The study noted a discrepancy in how well managers thought they handled conflict and how well they actually did: a third of managers (31 percent) reported that they handled disagreements well, but only 22 percent of non-managers agreed with those number. And, 43 percent of non-managers stated that their supervisors did not deal with conflict as well as they should, compared to only 23 percent of managers who shared that perspective.

Additionally, the authors of the study called out the fact that what they found the most striking – and alarming – was that the majority of employees had never received conflict management training. Yet dealing with difficult people, or people who are creating conflict, is a reality in the workplace; one exacerbated by the range of internal and external pressures of working.

There’s an enormous financial cost to organizations whose managers lack training in dealing with difficult people. Those companies who understand the value of conflict resolution and provide training to their employees have a competitive advantage. New managers who are tasked with leading potentially disgruntled employees are better able to manage if they have been shown how to deal with difficult people in the workplace.

New manager training tips for dealing with conflict

Conflict in the workplace is a given. Bring any group of people together, and you will find differences of opinion, perspectives, and personalities. Cultural diversity can be a factor too. I know from my work, for example, that Europeans are more direct and saying, “No,” is acceptable. While in the Americas it is less common to say, “No,” and in Asia, it is considered completely impolite to say, “No.”

Managing conflict, then, is an essential skill for a new manager. And to manage conflict, you need to understand your own response to the objection, or person’s behavior, or situation. You need to learn how to diagnose a situation and drive it to resolution and, how to manage conflict and turn and objection around.

Some people take a negative view of conflict and are uncomfortable with it, believing it should be suppressed or avoided. But I have found that expressing it openly and getting the issues out on the table can result in positive outcomes. I like to advise my clients to “mine for conflict” so that managers can surface any negativity and deal with it directly. I believe that it’s important to provoke conflict sometimes to get any bad feelings out on the table.

Sound impossible? It’s not. Let me share these tips for dealing with difficult people at work:

1. Use empathy statements to show you hear them

2. Ask if you can have a one-on-one to address their particular questions after the general meeting

3. If you are dealing with the decision-makers, drop your agenda and go into open question mode

4. Suggest taking a break, before resuming create a position-offer

5. Ask the person how they feel about your solution

6. Remind the difficult person, or people, of the big picture and that you are all on the same team and that what’s good for the company can be good for the individual.

Need more help? My new book, The New Global Manager, due out this summer, will offer practical advice and best practices to help you manage diverse personalities, conflict, and challenging people–all on a global level. I’ll also recommend an excellent resource you can find on Twitter: @askamanager. @askamanager tweets advice to help you understand what managers and employees go through in the career development process (and how they manage conflict in the workplace too.)

And Sarah? Six months later she reported that things had improved and mentioned that she had begun taking 15 minutes at the start of her team meetings to have a “complain session” so that the team was able to clear the air get any issues out of the way. She sounds like she is adjusting to the new role very well.

Would you benefit from business coaching? Contact me. I can help.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

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Are You A First-Time Manager? Here Are 5 Essential Tips for Success!

First time Manager

Being promoted to your first management position is exciting–but it can be difficult. The transition from employee to first-time manager (FTM) is riddled with challenges, everything from establishing yourself as a strong but approachable leader to doing your own work and also managing a team efficientlyStudies have shown that 47 percent of managers don’t receive any training when they take a new leadership role.

Becoming a manager is one of the most stressful and challenging transitions in any career,” writes William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders. “But when you become a manager, everything about your job needs to change–your skill-set, the nature of your work relationships, your understanding of what “work” is, and how you see yourself and your organization. You have to operate from a brand new script, one that’s about “we”–ensuring collective success,” he concludes.

I agree completely. And I’d like to share five tips from my new book, The New Global Manager (available Summer 2018) to help first-time managers move into this new leadership role.

1.Give timely and constructive feedback.

A good manager provides employees with feedback about his or her performance. Learn to use your observational and communication skills to help your team understand what they do well and where they need to improve.

Tip: Keep two things in mind–first, make sure you’re clear in your intention. Tell the recipient the purpose of your comments, whether it is to grow, improve their image, or protect them. Second, don’t talk about hearsay or feelings. Stick to observable facts.

2. Empower the team and don’t micromanage.

You empower your team when you establish clear communication and expectations. As Gordon Treegold, founder and CEO of Leadership Principles writes, “…empowering people and giving them the opportunity to contribute and to solve problems opens us up to the collective knowledge we have…”

Tip: Take the time to learn your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and then let go. Begin to delegate work to them, and provide subtle direction if needed. But allow them to handle the project in their own way within the established parameters.

3. Express interest and concern for your team.

Showing an employee you care is an integral part of building rapport and stable working relationships with your team members. “Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their leaders are infinitely more likely to go above and beyond for the company and hold themselves accountable for their part of a project,” writes John Hall in an article for Forbes.

Tip: Listen with your full attention directed toward understanding what your coworker or staff member needs from you,” writes Susan M. Heathfield, “Many managers, especially, are so used to helping people solve problems that their first course of action is to begin brainstorming solutions and giving advice.”

Your team may need to know you are really hearing them before you supply solutions. Make sure you understand what the person is telling you and reflect back the information you believe you have heard during the conversation.

4. Model a productive and results-oriented mindset.

Developing a productive and results-oriented mindset in your organization can yield increased job satisfaction and engagement levels and reduce turnover. By modeling this mindset for your team, you start that process.

Tip: Create results-oriented goals for yourself and for your team and model what working on projects where you can measure results looks like. Turn everything you do into a case study and sit down with your team to review and measure the results you have obtained. Give your team results-oriented goals and encourage them to find ways to measure and report on their outcomes.

5. Be a good communicator and share information.

A manager doesn’t have to be dynamic and charming–just highly communicative and transparent. Let your team know to anticipate changes, let them know what’s happening in your management meetings, and provide company updates. The more you communicate, the more trust will be built and the team will see you as an ally instead of an authoritarian.

Tip: Use part of your team meetings to discuss strategy and bigger goals for the organization as a whole. Take questions from your team members. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but will do your best to find out.

If you are a first-time, newly-minted manager: Congratulations! You will be amazing. Take the five tips I have just described and use them in your new position. You will find each of them valuable as you negotiate this new chapter of your life.

And join my community to get first dibs on my new book for managers, due out later this year.