Posts Tagged ‘Commitment’

Buy-in: what gets yours?

For our latest Change Directors event I asked attendees to contribute their top tips for managing organisational change.  I was excited to receive 35 ‘pearls of wisdom’ from a diverse set of individuals – ranging from FTSE 50 Directors & Public Sector Leaders to Interim Consultants and Not-for-Profit Managers.  The one common thread was ‘get senior level buy-in to the Change’.  Just reading it, ‘getting buy-in’ seems like a simple task to be performed at the beginning of the programme – just an action to cross off the to-do list…

I am not a Change Expert, but I have worked for Consultants leading complex change programmes for over 10 years and have delivered many marketing projects requiring senior level sponsorship, so I know it’s a little more complicated than that…

It got me thinking, what are the actual steps you take to secure ‘buy-in’ and how do you know when you’ve got it?  We’ve all been in those meetings where your colleague, Rob, is explaining their latest idea & asking you for your support.  You nod & say “Sure, sounds great, I can do that” & make a note on your action list.  Then you return to your desk & dive back into the other 3 projects you’re managing.  Now, if Rob is Senior Management, you may comply with his wishes fairly quickly.  But if he’s a peer-level colleague, a few things run through your mind: do I care about Rob’s project? do I respect Rob? do I like Rob? what would happen if I didn’t do anything?

Realistically, it’s going to take more than one meeting with Rob for me to make it a priority – I have to care about his project, I have to respect him and it has to be more important/urgent than all my other work tasks for me to make time to do something.  That’s how Rob will know when he’s got my real buy-in – not only have I done what he’s asked me to do, but my actions go beyond his request & I’ve committed to making the project a success.  If Rob has really enthused me, I’ve motivated a colleague to contribute too.  I care.

I googled ‘buy-in’ & found a simple paragraph in a HBR article that sums it up for me:  “As Harvard author and psychologist, Daniel Goleman, has taught us, leaders must be able to get along with others. The ability to relate to others as a fellow human being is essential to gaining buy-in for a leadership objective. Sure you can tell people what to do, but if you do not earn their trust you will get compliance, not commitment. Being everyone’s pal is not necessary, but treating others with respect is essential gaining trust, an attribute that is essential to holding teams together in trying times“.  (“Crisis Raises New Issues for Executive Coaches“, John Baldoni, HBR, May 2009)

So, are the Change Agents that consciously build trust & respect the only ones to get real buy-in?  What do you think?


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