I learned a great deal from UXPin’s Virtual Conference (2020). One of my favorite sessions was The Secret of Effective Influencing by Elad Simon. Below are my takeaways and sketchnotes from this session.
Why do you even want to influence others?
Get stuff done (GSD). In your work or non-work environment, you’re likely to deal with limited resources, such as people and time. Therefore, being able to effectively influence others is especially important if you need to move projects forward.
Stakeholder Mapping Matrix (SMM)
Elad explained a stakeholder mapping matrix (SMM). SMM lays the foundation for effectively influencing others.
Do this at the beginning of your project, and it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Step 1: identify stakeholders
List out all the stakeholders that are relevant to your project. They might be your manager, key contributors (e.g. your teammates), a few senior executives.
Who are “relevant stakeholders”? Try thinking in their shoes —
- Who/Whose team will your project have any impact on?
- Who needs to know about your project progress?
- Who will be motivated by your project?
- Who do you need to convince?
Keep this list up to date.
Step 2: map out these stakeholders
Based on the level of power and interest of your stakeholders, map them out in the SMM matrix — below is my own sketchnotes version.
You’ll need to treat stakeholders in the four quatrains differently:
- High power + high interest: you’ll want to manage them closely. Your project can greatly affect them, and they also have the power to make or break your hard work.
- High power + low interest: you’ll want to keep them satisfied. Your project may not be that important to them, but they may be able to use their power to help you.
- Low power + high interest: you’ll want to keep them informed. Some stakeholders can’t contribute much but are good with being in the know.
- Low power + low interest: you’ll want to monitor them, but with minimum effort. Generally, you want to make sure they’re ok with the changes you’re proposing.
If you have a lot of stakeholders and their locations in SMM tend to change, try using post-its. It’s very easy to move things around. If you sense some stakeholders are at risk, indicating them with color-coded post-its makes it more straightforward.
Step 3: communicate with these stakeholders
Now that you know you need to treat stakeholders differently, it’s time for communicating your message to them. To be able to effectively do that, flex your storytelling muscles — learn what they care about, see your project through their lenses, and tailor the angles of your message. Your message should be communicated a bit differently to different stakeholders.
Tips for influencing micro-managers: it’s hard. One way to solve it is by finding out what they are passionate most about. Have a conversation with them, let them get very heavily involved in that area, but leave the rest to you. This way, you can feel empowered. However, you may also find it necessary to step away on certain occasions.