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Gaining Employee Buy-In: Four Questions to Prepare Your Company for Change

Picture of employees gaining buy-in around a table from business owner

By Nick Cleveland, Internal Product Owner

How do you get the people in your organization to buy into company change?

That’s the million-dollar question asked in every major initiative I’ve been a part of. Some of these initiatives went spectacularly well, saving thousands of dollars, while some have been spectacular failures. The difference between these particular initiatives was buy in.

This concept of a bought-in, engaged workforce is one of the most talked about in business today.  Before you tackle this mysterious concept, check to see that you have your ducks in a row. Answer these four simple questions that will help you gain the “buy-in” of your team:

  1. Do you know what you are trying to solve? Clarity is maybe the most important aspect of any change. It sounds simple, but so many initiatives are sunk by a lack of clarity.

    • Clearly define your problem.
    • Define how you will address it.
    • Define how you will track it.
    • Define what winning looks like.
Pro Tip: Avoid using the name of your company’s CEO, president, or other high-ranking people as a reason to continue. This may garner you some short-term compliance, but it will not gain you the true buy-in you want.
  1. Does your team know what they need to know? Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

    • Consistent, clear, and relevant communication is important. Change usually falls apart when communication starts to dwindle…out of sight, out of mind. 
    • No one can teach you how to be genuine. The more honest, vulnerable, and sincere you can be, the more accepting your audience will be of your message.
  2. Does your team have the opportunity to be a part of the solution?

  • People who are closest to the work live the problems that you are trying to solve. They are the key to finding a sustainable solution.

  • What if I told you that you can create engagement through improvement? People inherently want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. You can tap into that by involving them in problem solving. You and your team will grow closer. Your team will be more apt to “own” the results because they will be invested in the solution.
  1. Is your team empowered to act? Develop them, empower them, and then get out of the way.

    • Cross-train your people. This approach will show your team you are willing to invest in them, while gaining a more flexible workforce.
    • Make sure sharing of job knowledge, thought process, and expectations are the core of your culture.
    • You only have a finite number of resources, so be sure to use them effectively and efficiently.

Gaining buy-in is an important first step in any change. Try these tips, and let us know how they are working for you. Do you have any methods that have worked in your business? Comment below to share your success.