Why Employee Buy-In is a Perception
This past week I spoke to a group of financial leaders at their annual retreat. The group was preparing to introduce changes in how they pursued and achieved their annual objectives at the branch level and our discussions in particular centred around how to obtain buy-in from their employees. The key message we discussed was that success in achieving their objectives will require a shift in the perceptions of their employees as perception precedes buy-in and buy-in is necessary for engagement and commitment.
Perceptions, the starting point then in building commitment, requires that those impacted by a change or initiative must believe that the change is (A) necessary based on their perceptions, (B) achievable within the constraints of their existing roles and time, and (C) sustainable based on other existing initiatives and priorities. The problem however is that since every employee has different perceptions and ideas around what is necessary, achievable and sustainable, the degree to which any new change introduced will succeed can vary dramatically.
The starting point of introducing any new initiative or change begins with understanding employee perceptions in each of these three areas. You can achieve this by asking employees individually or in smaller focus groups, the following questions:
1. Do employees believe the desired change (in behaviour, thinking or activity) is necessary?
2. Do employees believe that the change is something that is reasonably achievable based on their existing priorities and time constraints?
3. Is the change sustainable over the long-term or is it at risk of failing?
With feedback and a clear understanding of employee perceptions in these areas, leaders can then work to determine how, when and to what degree a new initiative or change is introduced. More importantly, this feedback provides key information that can support how to shift perceptions through proper positioning of the change or initiative. If, for example, the employees of these financial leaders do not support introducing this new method of setting and pursuing goals, it offers a clear signal that their perception is that either the new approach to goal setting is not achievable in it’s current state or, it will require too much time to apply. These perceptions can be altered by holding broader dialogue with employees about the change (e.g. what won’t work, why), providing more time for training and testing of the approach (to improve comfort levels), and piloting the new approach on a smaller scale (for experiential learning and to demonstrate results).
Since I’m guessing that you are constantly introducing new changes and initiatives within your team or organization, take a few moments to plan out your next initiative using the steps above, namely obtain employee ideas and feedback on a potential change; identify perceptions that require shifting; engage in dialogue with employees to address their perceptions; adjust training time and material accordingly; and then pilot the initiative on a smaller scale. This approach will not only effect perceptions and increase buy-in, but will result ultimately in less time invested in attempting to introduce new initiatives.
If you’re still stuck on how to effectively introduce change and get the buy-in you need from employees contact me. I offer customized coaching programs for business owners, executives and leaders to navigate business challenges, improve their effectiveness and increase confidence.
© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.