How do we obtain employee buy-in?
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. Our discussions centered 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. Perception precedes buy-in and buy-in is necessary for engagement and commitment.
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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.
Since every employee has a different perception and idea 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 the following three areas. Ask 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 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.
What happens if 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. Discuss what won’t work and why. Or, offer to provide more time for training and testing of the approach. Furthermore, pilot 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. 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 employee buy-in, but will result in less time invested in attempting to introduce new initiatives.
If you’re still stuck on how to effectively introduce change and get the employee buy-in you need, 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.