Beached Tugboat or Smooth Sailing

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You and your leadership team just made a decision for a brand new initiative for your business, and you are so excited about it.  You start telling others about it and you are immediately met with resistance.

You do some damage control by having a meeting to announce it and explain it in more detail.  The naysayers come out, nitpicking every detail, speaking doom and gloom for the many ways the initiative will fail.

Did we miss something?  Isn’t this a clear big win for our company?  What did we miss?

Ah, the criticality of gaining buy-in.  Not every decision requires a change management campaign to get buy-in from your staff; but most do.

Most employees resist change.  They will usually get on board with you, but they need the certain behaviors below from you for them to be excited to follow.

Include impacted players in the decision as much as possible

Most company-wide decisions are made in a vacuum of the leadership team.

Both small and enterprise-wide decisions impact more people than you originally realize.

Have you really gathered enough information to know how this decision will impact everyone?  What do the people doing the work know that you don’t know?  How will this change impact your customers?  Will a system be shut down that you were unaware someone needed?

You do need to make decisions quickly to remain nimble; at the same time, make sure the decisions are wise by asking enough information of those affected.

Not only will this keep you from making short-sighted decisions, it also breeds confidence from those involved in the decision.  They will be helpers in accomplishing the change rather than naysayers poking at you with every complication.

Communicate with clarity

When you give an assignment, you see most of the details in your head.  Our default, though, is to only provide a quick high-level framework of what we want, even though we have other unspoken expectations.

Be clear on what you want.

Be clear on when you want it.

Be clear on parameters of how you want it.

Have the person speak back to you what they think you want, so that you can tweak their understanding to match yours.  Finally, ensure that the person is committed and able to perform the task to your satisfaction.

When people are provided clear parameters and thoughtfully agree to the challenge, they have a high likelihood of meeting your expectations.

Create an environment where challenge is welcome

You hired competent staff.  If you wanted a bunch of yes-men, you could hire robots.

Instead, you have a company full of women and men who think.  They see the operations of the company from a vastly different perspective than you.  This gives them an insight into company decisions that could inform you and help you tweak the decision into a better one.

Let them ask hard questions and state hidden risks.  Let them point out thoughts that may not have occurred to you.

Creating an environment where staff readily speak up engages your staff and helps them feel a part of driving the bus.

Without their buy-in, you will be at the helm of a beached tugboat on land.  With their buy-in, you will sail into the next blue ocean.


To learn more about getting your staff engaged, download our eBook on the 6 changes to restore a CEO’s energy.

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