Famously linked to Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin effect is nothing else but: “Have someone do you a favour, and in the future, they will be happy to do more favours to you than they would be if you had done a favour to them“.
In Project Management, this is fully applicable.
Not only will the make your project manager’s life easier, it will also affect the quality of the project’s outcome.
You have already established how serving your project team will, in turn, make them more interested and willing to serve you back – i.e. do a good job.
The shift here is: have your team be willing to do a good job as a favour to you not because you have done a favour to them (e.g. laying out the work for them), but because they have already done a favour to you in the past.
This is what I call the Franklin Project Loop.
If you can manage to request a task to your project team by phrasing it as a favour, and have them do it for you, then you can be sure they will be more willing to follow up with more favours next time.
As you can see, if you leverage the Fanklin Project Loop enough and embed it in your project management skills, you will have teammates that will be completely devoted to your cause (i.e. the project results) and that are willing to accept your leadership better.
As you can see, this is an invaluable project management skill to have.
But it is also one of the most difficult ones to attain.
There are two caveats to this project management skill:
Do not abuse it;
Make sure your team is ready
Do not abuse the Franklin Project Loop
Your team is not stupid, and neither are you, my dear reader.
By now you have probably commented in your head “hold on, this is borderline manipulation, this is not project management skills“
And you are right: if you abuse this technique, you will be a manipulator, and your team will see through your game and call you out on it, refusing to do better work and ultimately destroying all you have tried to build.
What is worse, they will probably despise you – so be careful.
This technique is extremely powerful, but also very delicate.
Make sure your project team is ready
The Franklin Project Loop is one of the advanced project management skills.
To initiate it, you need to be able to ask your team a favour, and they need to be willing to do it.
If they are not, work on reciprocity a bit more before hoping to get the Franklin Project Loop started.
As a matter of fact, you should never fully stop working on reciprocity, and use it in parallel to the Franklin Project Loop.
You can’t lead by example if you don’t know what you are doing.
So, as far as project management skills go, showing that you are good at your job will take you a long way.
There are no shortcuts to becoming technically skilled in anything, just hard, hard work.
What can also take you a long way in being granted authority by your team is not only working on your project, but showing your project team that you are working as hard as them, if not more.
Remember when we mentioned likeability?
Now, take these two situations:
In Project A, the Project Manager is the best one on the field, knows every single applicable technique and is directing his team to do all the work, which he then corrects;
In Project B, the Project Manager is very good, though not excellent, and he is the first one to show up on the job, lays down the work for all his team, consults them when he has doubts, is the last one to leave the office, is reachable 24/7 and works with his team on the creation of the best strategy they can get with their skill pool.
Now ask yourself: which team would you like to be on: project A or project B?
Regardless of your technical skills, being human does not make you any less authoritative.
Whereas Project A’s manager comes in the team with a “given” authority (“he is the best one in the field”) Project B’s manager comes in with work, to have authority granted by his team.
And as we said in the beginning, Authority in Project Management is nothing else but Negotiation.
So, according to this, whose team do you think will have their project manager’s back in the end? A or B?