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A 5 Tip guide to team buy-in

Your business may recognise the need to change, embrace new processes or implement a cutting edge piece of equipment or software. As much as the need for change is acknowledged, it’s possible you may find your biggest challenge is getting company-wide buy-in. Resistance to change can be due to numerous reasons, but the underlying explanation is often connected to emotions. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, apprehension that the change will result in a loss of position or control, shifting priorities, apprehension over having to learn new systems or the secret worry about appearing inept. Other areas of concern could be that the change will bring a greater workload or staff have had previous experiences where poor execution caused turmoil.

Managing change is not a simple operation. To achieve buy-in, good leaders need excellent people skills, such as empathy and strong emotional intelligence, coupled with clear communication skills. So armed with these skills, how can Managers encourage change? Read our 5 Tips for some helpful ideas.

Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have – and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up
(James Belasco and Ralph Stayer – Flight of the Buffalo, 1994)

1. Outline your vision

Outline your visionCommunicate the change as a conversation. You will be dealing with people’s emotions and typical corporate speak won’t enable you to convey your message with sensitivity. Show employees where you are today and where you intend to be tomorrow. Clearly state ‘the what and why’ of the change, especially why doing nothing isn’t an option, but don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information. Be relevant. Present why this should matter to them, how it will positively impact their careers, how it will help the organisation, but also what is expected of the various departments. Show how you plan to measure success, this will engender confidence that the project will not fizzle out due to a lack of monitoring, leaving everyone demoralised.

2. Have a Task Group

Have a Task GroupThrough involvement, people develop deeper understanding and commitment, so form a team aligned to the cause that will lead the charge. You will need a coalition of influential and helpful people whose power comes from a variety of sources, including job title, status, expertise and political importance. However, you can find effective change leaders throughout your organisation and they won’t necessarily follow the traditional hierarchy. This task group will specifically help with:

  1. Directing the process
  2. Clarifying, summarising and developing the team’s ideas
  3. Motivating and assisting
  4. Keeping the project focused

When assigning tasks, ensure they play to the team member’s strengths. It’s important to be clear with each person about how their work is vital to the outcome.

3. “Don’t eat the whole elephant in one gulp”

“Don’t eat the whole elephant in one gulp”To help nurture success, it’s best to implement change incrementally. Try to carry out parts of your change agenda slowly, to give people time to become accustomed to your new ideas. Create short-term goals with some quick wins to encourage enthusiasm. Quick wins will help build the motivation to keep pushing forward.

60% of all change efforts fail. Not because it was the wrong idea, but because of the human factor
(Seapoint Centre.com)

4. Listen and follow up

Listen and follow upHaving Management on board gives a powerful message and aids credibility. They will provide the needed resources, such as funding, time and people, and remove roadblocks. The key decision makers must be visible and active sponsors, stay informed and connected. It’s vitally important to address instances of resistance, as unhappy employees can poison an entire project with their negativity. Having a scheduled meeting with your coalition team will help check on progress, but also consider making yourself available via email or during certain hours of the day, so employees can let you know when genuine challenges arise. This shows you are empathetic to your teams concerns and are willing to work with them to find solutions.

5. Be malleable

Be malleableJust as your colleagues can resist change, sometimes business leaders can fail to recognise that the original plan isn’t working the way they wanted it to. For a change to succeed, you can’t afford to be arrogant and press on regardless, so solicit feedback. The comments you receive may mean you need to adjust your own strategy. Making changes will show you value the buy-in of your employees.


Organisational change can bring many challenges. It may be stressful for all employees, from the top down. To foster buy in so change can succeed, maintain employee morale through clear communication, feedback and employee recognition. For more tips and practical guidance on how to foster a company wide openness to change, sign up for our 15 day challenge.

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