Understanding Sociodynamics

Understanding Sociodynamics

DESCRIPTION

Founded by Jean-Christian Fauvet, Sociodynamics invites us to rely on man's aspiration to invest and surpass himself. It proposes several tools useful to the manager for analysing the forces at work, developing strategies for change, and mobilising the players in a project. The Partners' Map and the Allies' Strategy are among these main tools.

  • With the Allies Strategy, the intention is to increase the number of actors putting positive energy into a project, particularly a change project. • The Partner Map is a valuable reading grid and a simple aid to measure the attitudes of the members of your team or your entourage in a given context and to adapt your management/influence strategy accordingly.

This approach is based on the observation that faced with attitudes that change over time and from one project to another, a leader must know how to adapt if he or she wants to mobilise the troops.

What is special about Sociodynamics is that it is not based on the personality traits and typology of the individual (such as MBTI, DISC, LUMINA, etc.) but on situational attitudes, those chosen by an actor in a project at a given time. The obvious advantage is that we are talking about elements on which the manager can act.

1. Synergy and antagonism

The objective of sociodynamics is to know how to manage the energy deployed by the actors in a given project. This energy can be both :

  • positive and collaborative (called 'synergy')
  • negative, critical and creative (called 'antagonism').

It is by no means sufficient to say that a particular actor (or group of actors) is for or against a project. The reality is more complex: It can be for and against at the same time or neither. One stakeholder can be both more antagonistic and more synergistic than another: that is, develop both more energy for and more energy against a given project.  For example: "I agree with the objective and the main lines, but the solution envisaged seems impossible to me".

An "ally", in the sociodynamics sense of the term, is therefore an actor who injects more synergy than antagonism. Someone who proposes alternatives to those of the project develops antagonism, but also synergy since their intention is for the project to move forward. It is therefore fundamental not to be blinded by antagonism, and to see the energy behind this opposition.

2. Learn to position the actors and decode their strategies

To construct the stakeholder map (below) which allows you to visualise the degree of synergy and antagonism of the stakeholders, you need to

  • first, make an inventory of the stakeholders
  • identify for each stakeholder the nature of the energy they inject (or not) into the change
  • assess the level of synergy, on a scale from +1 to +4
  • then assess the level of antagonism, on a scale from -1 to -4

NB: what is important in this scale of values is the notion of "taking action", of taking initiatives in the direction of synergy or in the direction of antagonism. This notion is materialised by the dotted lines, which make it possible to position an actor on +1/+2 vs. +3/+4, and -1/-2 vs. -3/-4.

Once the actors have been positioned, we obtain categories: hesitant, passive, aligned, torn, concerted, opposed, irreducible or revolted.

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  • Characteristics of main categories
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Very often, we realise that, while there may be opponents, there are also few allies, or at least few declared allies. So we have to create them, to encourage them.

3. Be strategic and adapt your management and influence style

Each stakeholder profile must be approached with a specific strategy: this is the strategy of allies. Be careful not to label each stakeholder definitively! You must bear in mind that their position is very rarely fixed - or else it is a sign that they are heading for a deadlock.  So actors position themselves at the start and then constantly reposition themselves.  This permanent reconfiguration is known as the "actors' game".

3.1. DEVELOP YOUR ALLIES

  • First of all, you have to accept a certain amount of antagonism from your allies, i.e. you don't want them to have the same opinion as you in every respect. The important thing is that they inject energy into the project. A large part of the project's success will therefore depend on the talent and attentiveness of the project leader, on his or her ability to integrate into the project what is important to them. Take your allies as they are and act accordingly
  • Next, it is essential to provide more time for allies (2/3) than for opponents (1/3). This is a principle which is a priori common sense, but which is often forgotten because of the strong tendency to take care of the actors who make noise and to look where it is lit (the street lamp syndrome). Taking care of opponents rather than allies (real or potential) shows all actors (allies and opponents alike) that antagonism is a more profitable strategy than synergy.

Devoting time to your allies means involving them in the work, giving them responsibilities, decision-making power, information, and recognition, making them work together, mobilising them, and giving them an important role. In a word, showing that it pays to be synergistic. It is the allies who make a project successful, much more surely than the opponents who make it fail.

  • Give responsibility to your allies to convince the undecided and contain the opposition.
  • Create a positive dynamic from the concerted effort: give them time and listen to them. Give them responsibility and recognition.
  • Delegate minor tasks to the aligned to encourage them to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Spend time understanding the motivations of the disaffected. Deal with legitimate demands to win them over.
  • Show interest in the passives, providing them with regular information. Make sure they don't fall into opposition.
  • Continue to observe the terrain: nothing should be taken for granted.

3.2. MANAGE OPPONENTS

  • Give them less than 1/3 of your energy.
  • Make it clear to opponents that their antagonism will never get them anywhere. Distinguish between legitimate demands and unfounded accusations.
  • Wait for the torn to find a more stable position
  • For the diehards or rebels: contain their ability to do harm and isolate them.

Note: Both the level of synergy and the level of antagonism can be high for your project without threatening it because the overall energy level around the project is high. On the other hand, if most of the players are not in a strong personal position and are reluctant to take initiative, even if you have allies, apathy threatens the dynamic and you risk exhausting yourself doing everything instead of getting things done!

3.3 ADAPT YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE TO THE CATEGORIES

The 3 management methods are:

  • Animation
  • Negotiation
  • Imposition

There is no wrong management style. It is advisable to know how to adapt one's method to the circumstances, to the people one is dealing with, on a given project at a given time.

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With the aligned, the concerted and the followers, be an ANIMATE • Think about co-constructing with the employees

  • Understand their point of view
  • Inform them so that they are ahead of the game
  • Build mutual trust
  • Maximise teamwork

With the passive, the hesitant and the torn, NEGOTIATE

  • Establish reciprocity
  • Understand obstacles to better resolve them
  • Know how to compromise

With opponents, rebels and grumblers, IMPOSE

  • Top-down / unilateral management
  • Legitimacy of rights
  • Order