LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

We're All in This Together: Creating Buy-In at Every Level

By Leadership Resources 05/06/2022
high five

A successful organization constantly rides the line between change and stasis. Growth cannot occur without new ideas, but radical shifts also threaten to collapse the entire structure, especially when there’s tension among team members. 

Change brings new interpersonal and leadership challenges. When a new policy is proposed or restructuring is in order, it’s imperative that leaders and staff members come to a sincere agreement and work together to enact such a change. 

This voluntary collaboration is known as “buy-in” because individuals must truly buy into and support an idea to help bring it to fruition. Simply put, more buy-in leads to more success.

How does one create buy-in?

In a perfect world, every member of an organization would agree on what’s best. This would eliminate the need to create buy-in because everyone would already be a willing proponent for change in their growing company

However, the real world relies on proper team management and strategic leadership, which involves taking several different perspectives into account and synthesizing them into an optimal solution. To create buy-in, then, leaders must effectively communicate with each individual team member.

What does this communication entail? First, it involves honesty and openness. Leaders must make it clear why they support change, based on the organization’s culture and values. Team members shouldn’t feel afraid to try new things and suggest changes because it feels that everyone is working together toward a shared goal.

By framing it this way, more skeptical team members can better see how this potential shift can benefit the company’s overall vision or mission. Leaders must stay open to feedback about the process, welcoming concerns and answering questions along the way. Any idea worth buying into should be easily defended against such criticism.

This communication might also require some give and take. You can’t expect every idea to strike the hearts and minds of everyone. There may be a period of negotiation that includes active listening, brainstorming, strategic thinking, and compromise. As long as this flow of communication is positive and fits within the company culture, these negotiations can result in the best possible outcome for everyone.

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creating buy-in at every level

The term “buy-in” often turns our minds to investments. In the stock market, buying in early will yield the highest profits, as long as the stock becomes more valuable over time. This principle also applies to buying into ideas in an organization. 

As a team manager, you want your team to buy into potential changes at every level. If the idea is valuable, this will benefit everyone. As a team participant, you also want others to have buy-in because it helps teamwork flow more smoothly as you move toward accomplishing the group’s and company’s goals.

The key here, of course, is to enhance the value of this change over time. This happens in a couple of ways. First, decisions made by a team tend to hold more value than decisions made by a single person. Consider the three types of decision-making: Command, consult, and consensus. 

There is a time and place for each of them, based on the decision that needs to be made and the amount of time you have to make the decision. Knowing which applies to each situation that arises is a skill of strategic leadership. Below, we’ll discuss each type of decision-making in more detail.

Command, Consult, and Consensus Decisions

A command decision is made solely by the decision-maker without input from the team. It A consult decision is made by the decision-maker but includes input from others. This takes a moderate amount of time within which there is some level of give-and-take, and this approach ultimately results in a moderate level of buy-in. 

A consensus decision is made entirely by the group. It has the highest level of buy-in, but it also takes the most time as the group pursues the full extent of the concept that “two heads are better than one.” Consensus decisions sometimes require a laborious process of building buy-in and working together as a team.

Among these three types of decision-making, consensus decisions hold the most value because they affect everyone involved. Each team member feels personally invested and has a stake in the success or failure of the idea.

Remember, while the real dollars-and-cents value of a decision matters, so does perceived value. When staff members buy into a change at every level, the perceived value of said change increases. Of course, an organization must be careful to not allow this perceived value to run away from the real value of an idea, as this can lead to disaster.

Company Structural Considerations for Building Buy-in

Buy-in isn’t something that happens magically. It takes a commitment to work together cohesively and allot the resources required to thoughtfully share feedback and develop action plans.

During any type of decision-making process, it’s vital to have a strong operating system in place to provide structure and direction for the plan to come together. This involves utilizing processes like strategic planning, succession planning, and retaining the top talent it takes to maintain consistency in leadership over the long term.

In general, the sooner team leaders can build buy-in for a particular change, the better. But first, leaders must approach their team with honesty, focus, a solid argument, and a willingness to listen. If they do this, they’ll more easily create buy-in at every level of the process.

The Accelerate Leadership Program

As you can see, buy-in is an essential part of running a successful company. Leadership Resources aims to enhance the leadership qualities of communication and teamwork in order to create more buy-in for your organization and set the stage for success.

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Any company looking to boost buy-in among its employees and leaders can do it through leadership development coaching. Companies looking to have meaningful, lasting guidance in support of developing leaders should invest in coaching and development programs as opposed to training programs.

Consider the Accelerate Leadership Program (ALP), which helps participants expand their leadership confidence and develop a talent for building buy-in. ALP uses a proven process that involves leadership coaching, peer interactions, educational software, and skill-building on topics like emotional intelligence, interpersonal interactions, and honing one’s personal leadership style.

At Leadership Resources, we help companies identify emerging leaders and nurture emotionally intelligent leadership that builds buy-in. When your company needs to implement an effective leadership development plan, we’re here to provide expert guidance and support.

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5 Phrases to Use for Effective Workplace Criticism

By Leadership Resources 10/19/2020
Woman giving criticism

Delivering criticism to a team can be a significant cause of leadership stress for many leaders. It’s not always easy to find the proper balance between sugar-coated comment and pointless put-down. But when someone makes a mistake, requires correction, or falls short of their duties, ignoring or obfuscating the issue is more harmful to your workplace culture than addressing it head-on.

So, how can you deal criticism in a way that lets your team member know where they went wrong, and, just as importantly, how they can improve? Let’s examine 5 phrases that can serve as templates or starting points for more effective workplace criticism.

How to Properly Criticize a Workplace

1. “I like where this is headed. Let’s see what we can improve…”

This is a powerful phrase to employ when your team or team member suggests an idea that has merit but plenty of flaws. Rather than starting with the problems, begin with a sincere recognition of the idea’s potential. This will energize the team while also focusing everyone’s efforts on trimming the fat and making necessary changes.

2. “The team could really benefit from more of your input.”

If you’re a team manager, you may experience an occasional imbalance in effort and input from your employees. Sometimes a minority of the team makes most of the calls. Or, perhaps a single team member rarely, or never, contributes to the creative process. When this happens, don’t just tell them to talk more during meetings. Instead, let them know that the team is lacking an important piece of the puzzle. This often motivates a less assertive team member to make their opinion known.

3. “This area seems to be a challenge for you.”

We all have our weaknesses. The key is identifying them so we know which areas we must work to improve. But it’s not always easy to make out our own faults. One of the most important leadership traits is being able to not only identify these problem areas in your team members, but also point them out without hesitation or ambiguity. Using the above phrase provides a solid entry point into this conversation, as it doesn’t personally attack the individual in question but still addresses the concern.

4. “You haven’t been meeting your performance goals/expectations.”

By letting a staff member know in simple terms that they haven’t been meeting their expectations, you accomplish a few important things. First, you reiterate what’s objectively expected of them, as laid out in previous conversations. Second, you open the door for a conversation on why these goals aren’t being met. And third, you can begin crafting a tangible performance management strategy for getting back on track. This is more effective than telling them they’re not doing a good job, or demanding results without a reminder of the company’s expectations.

5. “What do you think could have happened differently?”

Finally, effective leadership depends on reciprocity and communication. If you’re going to lead well, the conversation must go both ways. So, when someone messes up, make sure you ask what they thought of the situation, and how they might have handled it differently. To avoid coming off as patronizing, sincerely listen to what they have to say and give your thoughts as well.

No matter the circumstance, coming up with constructive criticism is a challenge for all leaders, but vital to maintaining an open and productive workplace. The above phrases are just a handful of examples that can help you address important issues without making it personal or sowing seeds of resentment.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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