CAD Management: Influence, Part 2

November 29th, 2010

Exerting influence is what CAD managers do. They need to influence the way processes are done, the products that are purchased, and the people who use them. I continue my article this month and focus on some general ways influence is expanded.

CAD managers have to influence others to get things done. They cannot do everything, be everywhere, and know every area of CAD. In order to get things done, they influence others to assist. Others may be paid to assist as staff members. This is, in effect, an agreed-upon exchange. Staff members agree to work for the firm and do a certain job in exchange for a salary and benefits. The influence that a CAD manager may have over them is based on the agreed exchange. If the person provides the proper level of work then the reward will be the salary. The influence is based on the organizational structure and the boss/employee relationship. It is a formal relationship between two parties.

The Rule of Reciprocity

Many of us act on the Rule of Reciprocity, which can be stated several ways. It has been around forever and we all use this "rule" to some extent all the time. There are differing flavors of how it works and what is involved. Some are more formal and others are unspoken.

The first is: "If I do this for you, you will do this for me." This is also an agreement in principle. It may be unspoken or it may be negotiated. You may actually set an agreed-upon course of action. An agreement may be simple, like "If I get you this new piece of software, you will help me install it for others." Or it may be more complex and include statements of work with deadlines and deliverables.

CAD managers should use this for formal exchanges of effort. It actually avoids confusion if you write things down or formally agree to an outcome.

The second form goes something like this: "If I do this for you, you will then feel like you should do something for me." Looking at the same concept from the receiving end would look like this: "You did something for me, so now I have to do something for you so that we are even." Many people have an innate feeling toward a balance scale. Most do not want to owe people anything. An uneven swap of who picks up the lunch check is an example. Most want to keep the cost relatively the same and whose turn it is under control. This perspective creates a natural tension between parties if it gets unbalanced. No one wants to take advantage of another nor do they want to be taken advantage of. As water seeks it own level, so do most relationships that operate under this premise. The parties weigh and measure the exchange so that it is always in balance. The goal is to stay even in the reciprocating.

For a CAD manager, this works out in the exchange of assistance between those who do not report to you directly. You try and keep the books in balance with even exchanges. Some CAD managers may use this principle to their advantage. They offer things knowing that the indebtedness will encourage others to reciprocate. They may even remind people of what they have done for them in the past before asking for help. This "influence" is subtle, but often effective. Effective, that is, only when it is not overused.

The third method is: "If I do this for you, then you will look bad if you don’t do something for me." Looking from the receiving end it would look like this: "You did something for me, so now I have to do something for you or look bad because I did not." This perspective is based on influencing others by capitalizing on their sense of duty or their desire to maintain a good image. It presupposes that the other person is going to feel a sense of debt. If they do not, then they are "shamed" into doing something. This is a very negative way of operating.

CAD managers should try to avoid this method. It is akin to strong arming someone into doing something for you. It purposely creates this arrangement of expected payback. It does it to gain the payback, not to give to the other person. The goal is to guilt someone into reciprocating.

Giving – the right thing to do

The best method of influence related to reciprocity is to avoid reciprocity entirely. This method would be: "I will do this for you, but you don't have to do anything for me." It is the "giving" method of influence. You give to the other person with no expectation of return. You continue to give and not ask for any kind of reciprocation. You may ask for help in another area, but repayment is never in your mind. You do not think of getting back, and if you do get something in return you are not measuring it. You would provide for others even if they made no provision for you.

For CAD managers, there is a payback on this method, but it is not a tangible, physical payback. It is the feeling that you have helped others and that they are enriched by it. It is the feeling that you have done the right thing.

In this season of giving – give to others. Not because of what they can return, but just because you should give more than you get. Do it for them. Do it because it is right.

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