AT WORK Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford. John Wiley & Sons, 1990

PREFACE --- What does it take to get things done in a big organization? There is a universal need to learn to "influence" others without the use of "formal" authority. This book shows why this need is growing in importance with the increasing complexities and rapid rate of change in large organizations.

Exercise your influence up, down and sideways in your organization. This is possible and essential because the responsibility for making things happen is spread out among interrelated and sometimes hostile factions at every level of your organization.

Use the "Law of Reciprocity" to create mutual advantage and have "upward influence" for you and those who you rely on to get things done.

Establish "currencies of exchange" which are valuable psychological and social "payments" (such as praise, challenge or a good word to the right people) that are appropriate to each work situation.

Know the difference between negative "manipulation" and positive "influence." Manipulation consists of actions to achieve influence that would be rendered less effective if the target knew your actual intentions whereas genuine influence is the direct attempt to discover what a coworker wants in order to cooperate so that you can respond appropriately by making a "fair exchange."

Thus, genuine "influence" is distinctly NOT the dehumanizing and immoral manipulation!

This book is both a "survival" manual and a "leadership" training package which shows you HOW to learn WHY people succeed (or fail) in today's workplace. The authors wrote the book MANAGING FOR EXCELLENCE (pvii-xi)


1) Influence and the new world of work (p1-25)

    [1] It's a new world, after all (p4-5)

    [2] What next? The end of predictability (p5-10)

    [3] Organizations need to "F" themselves --- because the forces of change are driving organizations to the new "F Words" --- "Fast," Flexible," "Focused" and "Fit" to the new work environment of the 21st century (p10-14)

    Today's organization must be able to:

      (1) Be FAST at realigning products and services to stay competitive

      (2) Be FLEXIBLE enough to change gears when necessary

      (3) FOCUS on what it does best so that everyone is working toward the same goals and developing skills that differentiate the firm from its competitors

      (4) FIT its structure and practices to the changes it faces

Why "keeping it simple" is a stupid idea since the real world is too complex now for simple hierarchical organizational forms!

No matter how smart top management is, it cannot have all the answers in advance. It no longer can organize in simple hierarchies with old rules. Managers at all levels must depend on those below them to take the initiative and deal directly with each other to inform, stimulate and challenge (EMPOWER) coworkers who are nominally "in charge" at the public service level. (p10)

Why the towering "chain-of-command" bureaucracies of the past are a STUPID IDEA and should be "flattened" in order to be transformed into the horizontal shapes of smaller divisions, matrixes or task forces!

Big hierarchical bureaucracies must create smaller divisions to focus on one product line or customer service area so the lines of communication are shortened and colleagues who share a common purpose can communicate directly. (p11-12)

How the power of computer information makes ideas and knowledge circulate freely and rapidly throughout the organization without the delays of status and official reports. Managers must use persuasion or genuine "influence" to get cooperation instead of controlling the flow of information to subordinate employees. Subordinate employees are less dependent on managers as sources of knowledge (information).

Why the desire for challenge is pushing organizations toward using greater genuine "influence" instead of blind authority for motivating today's workforce. That is because educated modern employees have changed expectations about work. They are less interested in safe but dull careers in favor of more challenge and responsibility!

Also, greater emphasis on quality, productivity, service and the use of advanced technology has made organizations far more dependent on the commitment of their employees instead of subservience. (p12-13)

How tougher customers who are more educated and demanding consumers of products or services challenge big bureaucracies by their expectations of higher quality, convenience, safety, customization, value pricing and better service.

How the competitive forces of speed and flexibility are shrinking the role of middle managers as large organizations are forced to "de-layer" or "flatten" their administrative structures so there will be less "deadwood" in the middle layers of supervisors. Thus, subordinate employees can insist that their bosses quickly respond to issues that may not have appeared important to them in the past. (p13-14)

    [4] The three faces of organizational influence --- Everyone in an organization has a "boss," and has "peers" to deal with. And some employees are "supervisors" who work through others. However, the cyclone of changes hitting large organizations has altered the relative importance of these three aspects of organizational responsibility.

    In the past, the managerial role was the most prominent. But the "flattened," more responsive and flexible structure of a large organization required to meet the current and future conditions of the work environment requires that more initiative, judgment and self-direction be expected from people in their roles as subordinates and peers, whether or not they have "formal"authority (major supervisory responsibilities based upon the old hierarchical organizational structure).

    The fundamental shift required of managers of large bureaucracies in order to deal more effectively with employees if they are to achieve high performance is for managers to realize that ALL employees in the organization are responsible for departmental success --- not just the leader. (p14-16)

    [5] Making it happen --- With so much interdependence required of managers, wielding genuine "influence" becomes a test of the skill of interpersonal communication. In this book there is an approach that allows leaders to be influential without being antagonistic. By shifting the focus of leaders from preoccupation with their own goals and frustrations to an understanding of the work world of their subordinates, they can achieve "win-win" outcomes. (p17)

    [6] Finding common ground --- the model of strategic alliances and partnerships and the four fears that prevent the building alliances (p17-22)

      (1) Your boss as a "partner" (p19-21)

      (2) the "four fears" that prevent the building of alliances --- Loss of control, disloyalty and insubordination, being political for selfish reasons, and being perceived as empire building by colleagues instead of taking the initiative. (p22)

    [7] Give and take --- the process of "exchange" (p22-25)

    (1) Mutual respect --- assume they are competent and smart (p23)

    (2) Openness --- talk straight to them (p23)

    (3) Trust --- assume that no one will take any action that is purposely
    intended to hurt another, so hold back no information that the other could
    use, even if it doesn't help your immediate position (p24)

    (4) Mutual benefit --- Plan every strategy so that both partners win! If that
    doesn't happen over time, the alliance will break up (p24)

    When the existing relationship is characterized by openness and trust, you can take the initiative without being seen as out of control, insubordinate, over-political or empire-building. When the relationship is poor or questionable, however, it is hard to know how the other person will interpret new forms of initiative. You may be in danger of creating suspicion, which will reduce your effectiveness, or increasing mistrust and jeopardizing the future of the relationship.

    This book demonstrates that the skills for attaining influence are within your grasp, even when your relationship is not a good one.

2) The Law of Reciprocity --- "exchange" as the basis for genuine "influence" (p26-44)

3) Giving power of "mutual exchange" --- getting what you want and giving others what they need (p45-71)

4) Goods and services --- the "currencies" of exchange (p72-98)

5) Knowing what they want --- understanding the world of your "allies" (p99-128)

6) You are more "powerful" than you think --- understanding your own world (p129-151)

    To achieve all the power of which you are capable, you need to understand yourself as well as your potential "ally" (boss, peer or customer).

    What exactly are your task or project goals?

    Which are of primary importance and which can be set aside if necessary?

    What are your personal and career goals? Do they help or hinder task success?

    Are you using all available resources?

    What is your style? Is it compatible with the style of your ally? Is your way of getting work done partially causing the problem that you hope to solve?

    All of these questions need careful attention --- if you are to be as powerful (genuinely "influential") as possible!

    Only then will you have the ability (essential personal skills and knowledge) to gain "influence" by making successful "exchanges" in a complex work environment. (p151)

7) Building effective relationships --- the art of finding and developing your allies (p152-180)

8) Exchange strategies (p181-214)

9) Lessons from a determined influencer (p215-250)

10) Becoming a "partner" with your boss --- influence without authority raised to the highest level (p251-279)

The rapidly changing world of work requires that people at all levels take initiative, really help their bosses --- by getting work done and by pushing back, if necessary --- and act as genuine partners. (p252)

[1] What do subordinates want? (p252)

(1) Improve the scope of the subordinate's job --- encouraging initiative by providing more challenge, responsibility, autonomy or discretion.

(2) Offer higher quality supervision --- helping in the new challenges by giving better, more timely feedback and coaching, but less judgmental criticism.

(3) Create a better work relationship --- supporting partnership by open communication, mutual influence, joint problem solving and greater trust.

(4) Be more effective as a boss --- helping the subordinate ("junior") partner carry out changes by obtaining needed resources, influencing upward, negotiating with peers or planning better.

[2] Allies and partners (p252-254)

[3] Attitudes toward authority (p254-259)

[4] What do bosses want, anyway? And why are they so afraid they will get it?

[5] No escape --- you are responsible for the relationship with your boss (p260-278)

(1) Improved job scope --- challenge, autonomy and so on (p264-265)

(a) Utilizing partnership to gain responsibility (264-265)

(b) Utilizing "exchange" (265-267)

(2) Changing the quality of supervision your boss provides (p267-271)

(a) Utilizing "partnership" on the boss-subordinate contract (267-268)

(b) The tension between admitting the "need to learn" and wanting "to look good" (p268-270)

(c) "Help me, but don't help the hell out of me" (p270-271)

(3) Improving the superior-subordinate work relationship (p271-278)

(a) Cost-benefit analysis (272-274)

(b) Disagreeing without being insubordinate (p274-275)

(c) Helping your boss be more effective in the job --- It is most desirable to influence managers in their ability to do their own jobs better so that, ultimately, you can better perform yours. You must learn to assist in a way that won't be resented. (p275-278)

(d) True Grit --- being a worthy partner (p276-278)

[6] Conclusions --- without a partnership approach, it is very difficult to influence most bosses. Genuine influence begins with a clear understanding of the other person's "currencies."

If your own attitudes toward administrative authority blind you to what your boss values, you will have a hard time figuring out what to "exchange" for the influence you crave. If you make authority figures into gods who are always right (or devils who can't be right, or remote icons who are too removed to be relevant), then you are unlikely to notice that they are also struggling to find their own influence!

It is in a boss's "humanness" that the clues to influencing him or her reside. (p278-279)

11) When you can no longer catch flies with honey --- "hardball" strategies for influence (p280-305)

[1] Accentuate the negative --- raise your ally's "costs" (p281-301)

(1) One step at a time --- gradual cost "escalation". The basic ground rule is to raise "costs," or indicate your intent to raise them, a little at a time. Gradual escalation is the way to minimize negative responses, allow yourself the most room for preserving the relationship, and increase the number of options you have. (p282-285)

(2) Going up? When the recalcitrant colleague is your boss. When your boss is the person who is really difficult to influence, and he or she is stuck in negative behavior, you have to work hard to find unprovocative ways to escalate the costs. (p285-287)

(3) Breathing room options --- The willingness to guarantee your own performance to your boss, if your boss will let you do it your way, is usually enough of a desirable exchange to create the desired better work relationship. You can use negative currencies to create space and then emphasize good performance as the most important outcome. (p287-289)

(4) The ultimate escalation --- betting your job by threatening to quit! Also, the employee who cuts a coworker down behind his back risks ruining his or her own reputation more than the reputation of the person targeted for revenge. (p289-297)

[2] Into every "lifer" some rain must fall --- Rotten apples and hardball. (p297-301)

(1) The sunshine law (p298-300)

(2) Saving all my love for you --- the calculated confrontation (p300)

(3) Spread a little sunshine (p300-301)

[3] No bullet-proof vests --- the risks of "escalation" (p301-302)

[4] Organizational dangers of using exchange strategies (p302-304)

[5] The potential of the "high-initiative, high-influence" organization (p304-305)

The needs for employees at all levels of an organization to take initiative, seek responsibility, and find ways to gain the cooperation of colleagues and managers will only increase in the new millennium. When all employees are skilled in the forming of "alliances" and in the creating of "exchanges" --- where they can acquire influence by helping others ACHIEVE their goals, large organizations can become fast, flexible, focused and fit to their environments.

They can manage to be "agile" no matter what the size of their organizations because the talented people in them know how to do what is needed to create results:

(1) Pay attention to what is really imporant --- what are the highest priorities --- to coworkers?

(2) See even those with different interests and expertise as potential "allies" rather than as "adversaries." (3) Go out of your way to help one another, because that builds the "credits" to trade in.

(4) Diagnose the needs of and take initiative towards fellow employees who won't "cooperate" rather than see them as "enemies" and writing them off.

(5) Create "win-win" results, which lead to a cooperative, trusting work environment in which it is easier to make the "exchanges" needed to get work done through ongoing genuine "mutual influence."

NOTES (p307-314)

INDEX (p315-319)

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