Relationship Mapping for Greater Influence

Harry was feeling anxious. A senior project manager at a Fortune 500, he was a long-term employee with a solid history of successfully leading teams.

His company had recently undergone a major restructuring that resulted in spinning off a large piece of the business. The restructuring meant that the remaining business needed a new strategic plan for survival.

What had already been a changeable environment suddenly felt unstable. Plus, in the highly-matrixed management structure, his reporting lines were blurry and this only added to the uncertainty.

Harry had learned to keep his head down and not make waves. He was highly competent and delivered quality work but didn’t invest much time networking with more senior managers. He was uncomfortable with authority and, an engineer by training, he was more focused on tasks than people.

Now, in what felt like a “gray murk,” he realized he needed support from these senior managers to be considered for a role-both meaningful and with a future-in the new paradigm.

Harry asked for outside coaching help to improve these relationships and manage up more effectively. As part of the discovery process of coaching, he took an emotional intelligence (EQ) assessment.

He had high scores for Achievement Drive, Teamwork and Collaboration, and Building Trust. The vulnerabilities showed up with Conflict Management and Building Bonds.

His scores in the vulnerable range were confirming and consistent with his difficulties with colleagues in more senior positions. We agreed that relationship mapping would be a productive exercise.

Harry’s first step was to create a list of all the people in his circle of influence. Then he scored each person on a scale of 1 to 5 according to the following criteria:

  • The level of influence of this person, or how important they were (from Mover & Shaker to Bystander)
  • The quality of the relationship (Strong Supporter to Openly Hostile)
  • The current strength of Harry’s relationship with this person (Solid to Tentative)

Naturally analytical and systematic, this exercise was eye opening. Harry was able to see where there were existing relationships that could help him and also where he needed to build bridges. His analysis provided a clear road map for him to follow. While he felt some discomfort in taking the actions, he was able to call upon the strength of his competencies in Teamwork & Collaboration and Building Trust to make the process less daunting.

Six months later, the increased contact and communication had boosted his visibility and, along with it, his senior managers’ awareness of both his contributions and his leadership potential.

Harry recently reported feeling more grounded and secure. While corporate priorities continue to be reshuffled frequently, he has more options, and for roles that are a better fit.

The emotional intelligence (EQ) assessment provided insight and coaching led to an action plan. With progress under his belt, he continues to be intentional and to adapt his communication style with senior management.