Professional courage and influence - Lesson 4: your reflections


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CIPD Staff

17 Jan, 2020 10:41

Welcome to the online community learning space for the lesson: Develop and sustain relationships. Use this forum to discuss the community reflective activity in the lesson. Read the contributions of others, ‘liking’ those you find helpful and add your unique reflections to the conversation by replying to this post. Click here to return to the lesson page at any time.

Community reflective activity:
Imagine that a new Head of Finance has just joined the organisation you are working for.
Her/his opening sentence when you meet them is ‘I’m here to do a job, I’m not worried about being liked’. 
What approaches would you use to develop a constructive relationship with them?  

  • Using the previous lesson based on communicating with impact, I would request a meeting with the Head of Finance to identify what information they would require from me, in what format and how often.  During the life of a project or any other work I may be involved with, there will be challenges due to time, people, quality (therefore Finance) and so a professional working relationship with the HoF is essential

    In this case I do need to be assertive, certainty not aggressive or passive. 

    I would expect the HoF to be managed closely initially and then "kept informed" as the project progresses.

    This process is also similar to relationships managed within any project as covered by PRINCE 2 or PBOK

  • In reply to Kevin Pollard:

    Like other project tools perhaps the Stakeholder Analysis framework to assess the possible power and interest and engagement of the HoF could be used for analysis and building a communications plan to build the relationship.
  • I would work on building a professional relationship with the use of the Stakeholder Analysis framework to assess ways in which this could be developed to advantage and aid both sides.
  • I would use the power-interest grid to work out their influence over my activity. I'd also set up a meeting with them to build a relationship with them, understanding their priorities (e.g. other projects) and the way they work to establish the boundaries of the relationship and communication channels.
  • In reply to Kevin Pollard:

    Yes, good to set expectations up front but to maintain assertiveness to ensure these meet both sides requirements!
  • In reply to Charlotte:

    First up I am a massive fan of mapping stakeholders. I first came across spheres of influence from Stephen Covey's 7 habits book. And then the power interest matrix. These days I don't use either formally (like the stabilisers on the bike) but keeping stakeholders in mind is always top of my list. My best and first example of this was some years ago working with a client. Naturally I was keen to influence my client as well as other managers and peers. But I later realised the people with real power (not in the typical sense) and interest were the co-ordinators who booked the facilitators. So I made sure I kept them closely on side.

    The real key for me when you map stakeholders (as suggested in the vid) is how might their levels of interest or power change. And which way to you need them to head. I.e. you might need them to take more interest so that you can progress. Or counter intuitively take less interest as they are slowing you down.

    So I am in agreement mapping the head of on the framework, then meeting them, then amending the mapping and then assessing how they need to ‘move’ or be ‘moved’. Might only take a subtle shift.
  • I love the power interest grid. I don't formally sit down and think about this at the moment but even just a quick reflection could be really beneficial in the future.

    With regards to new Head of Finance, I would look at their impact through the grid on a) my general day to day work (probably Low Power and Interest so just monitor), however for major projects this would likely be different. As they are a new person to the organisation it would be good to understand what they expect from me and define the relationship at the beginning so that there are no misunderstandings.
  • In reply to Stuart:

    Thanks Stuart! Definitely something to keep in mind and to be conscious of when progressing through different phases of activity.
  • I would build trust with them. Show them I am competent at my job, show a genuine interest in them as a person, be open about my own concerns and have integrity.
    1. I appreciate for his/her open communication. I would add, "Seems that you have larger plan; let me know how I can fit in that".

    2. I will have an informal talk to understand his/her priorities.

    3. Assess how my requirements can be fulfilled along his/her goals. I may use his/her power and interest to meet our goals as well as organizational objectives. 

  • It would depend very much for me in the values of the business, which in most cases I’m sure would be at odds wit their opening gambit. At some point They’re bound to be an important stakeholder in something or other so I’d asked questions aligned with what makes them tick - I’d probably ask ‘tell me what job it is you’re looking to do here’ & listen to their views
  • I would arrange to introduce myself informally and try to establish a positive relationship, I would then consider stakeholder analysis to establish what level of influence they are going to have on my day to day business. It is likely that they wouldn't be too heavily involved in the work I do but that they would need to be kept informed of any matters relating to the financial side of a project. I would want them to understand that good working relationships is key to successful management so would want to use professional courage and influence to gain their understanding on how this statement could be perceived by others as a negative outlook, they may not agree but it may alter how they interact with others in future in a more positive manner.
  • I would start by arranging a meeting with them, to understand what their goals are and what they would like from me. I would talk through my role and what relationship I have with the finance team, showing how we work collaboratively.
    I would keep them engaged with my work by keeping them informed with useful information.