Earlier this year, International Business Machines Corp. manager Kate Riley Tennant wanted to reassign some engineers. But the staffers didn't report to her; she had to persuade peers thousands of miles away to make the switch.
Ms. Riley Tennant's challenge is increasingly common. Managers say they increasingly must influence -- rather than command -- others in order to get their own jobs done. The trend is the result of leaner corporate hierarchies and the erosion of division walls. Managers now work more often with peers where lines of authority aren't clear or don't exist.
In response, some companies are helping managers bolster their influencing skills. 'It is a skill managers need more and more today,' says Rich Wellins, a vice president at Development Dimensions International Inc., a human resources company.
Mr. Wellins says demand for DDI's influence-skills training classes is up in recent years. Another consulting company, Personnel Decisions International, says it now runs dozens of 'Impact Without Authority' classes, up from a handful five years ago.
Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. recently hired PDI to teach influencing skills. The Florida steel-products maker is reorganizing some workers into teams; some supervisors are being retrained as 'facilitators' who counsel and coach workers, but don't have direct authority over them. 'It's really a different set of skills: 'How do I influence this group and gain credibility?'' says John Churchill, the training and development manager.
Union Bank of California added a PDI-led influencing class to its training roster this year, after top executives in a survey noted the importance of influencing skills. For several years, the bank has been encouraging employees to work with peers in other groups. Denise Ascheri, a bank training and development executive, says the training also helped some 'tell managers' -- those who tell people what to do, rather than persuade -- get better results by learning how to motivate rather than command.
At IBM, Kari Barbar, vice president of work-force programs, says she and peers noticed managers in the past few years needed help with projects that included people outside their division. They created a two-hour online course that is now offered three or four times a month for about 15 participants. Using a case study of a failing cross-group project, participants are taught to set goals, define roles and build relationships.
That is a far cry from when Ms. Riley Tennant began working as a software-testing manager 20 years ago. 'You just decided things and people went off and executed,' she says. Now, 'not everybody reports to you and so there's much more negotiation and influence.'
In January, Ms. Riley Tennant took a job managing engineers who customize IBM database software for specific industries, such as financial services, government and health care. Four U.S.-based developers report directly to her. Three others based in China and India also do work for her, but report to managers in those countries.
After taking over the team, Ms. Riley Tennant concluded there were too many people working on financial services and not enough on government or health care. She needed to persuade the country managers to shift resources.
Initially, the country managers resisted, fearing some of their local financial clients might lose out. Applying lessons from the training program, Ms. Riley Tennant promised to use other engineers to help serve those clients. The local managers agreed. So far, she says, the new arrangement is working.
Frank Martino also applied a lesson from the IBM training to complete a staff reorganization. Mr. Martino manages about 15 developers who make IBM's software work with other software. They provide expertise to customers by working with IBM's business-development group.
Historically, each business-development staffer worked with a specific engineer in Mr. Martino's group. He wanted to create teams of engineers to work with business-development staffers. Business-development managers feared the move might lead to confusion and missed connections. So Mr. Martino agreed to appoint team leaders to help coordinate. He says the system is working well.
'The more we operate as a global company, you're going to be faced with dealing more' across group boundaries, he says. 'It's just the reality.'
今年早些时候，国际商业机器公司(International Business Machines Corp.)的一位经理凯特•塔南特(Kate Riley Tennant)希望重新分配部分工程师的工作。但是，这些员工并不归她领导。她必须说服几千英里之外的同事决定此事。
为此，一些公司开始帮助管理人员提高他们的影响力技能。人力资源公司Development Dimensions International Inc.副总裁理查•魏林斯(Rich Wellins)表示，今天的管理人员越来越需要这项技能。
魏林斯说，近年来，对他们的影响力技能培训课程的需求一直在不断上升。另一家咨询公司Personnel Decisions International也表示，该公司的“非职位影响力”课程已开了几十个班，而五年前还只有几个班。
Gerdau Ameristeel Corp.最近就聘请了PDI在公司内部进行影响力技能培训。这家位于佛罗里达州的钢铁产品制造商将一些工人组成团队；一些监督人员接受培训，担任为工人提供咨询和指导、但没有直接权力的“协调员”。培训和发展经理约翰•邱吉尔(John Churchill)表示，这真是一套非常不同的技能：“我如何才能影响这个团队，并取得他们的信任呢？”
Union Bank of California今年将以PDI为主的影响力课程纳入了公司的培训计划，此前一项内部调查显示，高级管理人员认为影响力技能相当重要。几年来，这家银行一直在鼓励员工与其它部门的同事展开合作。银行培训和发展主管丹尼斯•阿什里(Denise Ascheri)表示，通过此类培训，一些习惯于告诉而非说服别人该做什么的管理人员通过学习如何激励而非命令他人，取得了更好的工作效果。