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Influence in a Matrix Environment: Use Your Personal Power! [Week 2 of 2]

Posted by on July 5, 2012

Positive Power and InfluenceLast week, we talked about the first 2 keys to influencing in a matrix environment:

  1. Stakeholders: Know who your key stakeholders are in the process.
  2. Objectives: Be very clear about your objective with each key stakeholder.

This week, we’re adding the final 2 powerful keys to your success:

3. Power

Be aware of the limitations of your positional power in a matrix. Keep in mind that when working in a matrix, there is a fair amount of stress in the system and tensions can run high. Many times our perception of what is at stake needs to be carefully managed. Of course we all would like others to see things from our perspective, however that usually isn’t the case. Tread carefully! It can be very tempting to rely on positional power for leverage in a matrix, but overuse of positional power can be fatal in an influence situation. You run the risk of coming across as high-handed and arrogant, losing credibility with others and eroding relationships that should be nurtured. Instead, you should use your personal power: your ability utilize a variety of influence techniques and approaches based on the situation and the people involved.

4. Flexibility

Influence style flexibility is the key to creating results. The most important thing you have in a matrix is your ability to persuade others with logic and create exchanges that make sense for all parties. In order to do this, you must cultivate your ability to listen carefully and build bridges with others around common interests and shared vision. Continual work on your influence skills will be required, since a well-rounded set of influence skills will help you identify conditions in each situation that will impact the style and approach you choose.

When you put all 4 of these powerful keys to success together in the training classroom, you take away an incredible set of tools you can use to improve relationships in your own “sphere” within the larger matrix environment. You’ll experience the benefits almost immediately!

Karen Holmes is a CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, based in the U.S. and delivering programs such as  Coaching, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.


Influence in a Matrix Environment: It Can Be Done! [Week 1 of 2]

Posted by on June 27, 2012

Positive Power and InfluenceIn a matrix environment, employees report on day-to-day performance to a project or product manager whose authority flows horizontally across departmental boundaries. They also continue to report on their overall performance to the head of their department whose authority flows vertically within his or her department.*

Sound complicated? It is! This challenging environment can be fraught with conflicts of interest. For instance, perhaps your “vertical” supervisor is demanding time or resources you have already set aside for your “horizontal” supervisor’s project. One of the key skills sets that will set you apart from your colleagues is the ability to influence…across job functions, at all levels, and without positional power. Sound impossible? Since 1977, CGWA has been awakening individuals and organizations to the power of positive influence skills—skills which aren’t limited by power structures, be they traditional or unorthodox. In a matrix organization, these skills are especially important.

Not sure if you are working in a matrix organization? A few simple questions can help to clarify:

  1. Do you report to more than one person or line of business?
  2. Is your focus on more two or more functions or segments of the business?
  3. Must you focus on several factors at the same time such as functions, departments, regions or products?
  4. Do you work in teams with people from different departments and locations, in which there are no hierarchical relationships?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you are working in a matrix environment! This week, I’d like to discuss the first 2 keys to influencing in a matrix environment:

1. Stakeholders

Know who your key stakeholders are in the process. A stakeholder is a person or group that has an investment or interest in something. Consider individuals, groups, and other organizations that are affected byand also affectdecisions and actions related to the business. Using a list or “mind map,” identify the people that are key to moving the process forward. Who are they? Think about regions, functions, departments and segments of the business.

2. Objectives

Be very clear about your influence objective with each key stakeholder. The ability to articulate influence objectives can make or break an outcome. Setting a clear influence objective can help you plot an accurate course to guide you through the influence process. Without a clear influence objective, your path will become confusing. Make it easy for the person that you are trying to influence by setting a clear objective that can be met.

Stay tuned next week as we discuss more keys to influencing in a matrix environment! 

*Source: Business Dictionary

Karen Holmes is a CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, based in the U.S. and delivering programs such as Coaching, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.