Getting buy in, that is, leading others to see the value in a change or process can be an elusive component to moving forward—but it’s an essential one. But there are ways to bring the conversation and support in your direction.
Here are a few suggestions to turn your stakeholders into cheerleaders.
Do your homework
If you really believe in this change, do your level best to challenge it before you start looking for buy-in. Look toward the possible outcomes, and test your own expectations. This is your best chance to clarify why you need the change before committing yourself.
This way, when you do approach your stakeholders with your plans for change, you’ll already have answers to their questions in your back pocket. You’re also positioning yourself to be a person the team looks to for answers before, during, and after the process.
Explain why the change is good for them
Giving your team your personal reasons for this change first focuses the conversation too much on you. You aren’t the entire department or company; you’re a part of the team. Start with that.
If you’re part of a large team, tell your group how the department will benefit in the long run. Are you saving IT department resources? Are you eliminating a time-consuming process or freeing up the budget for some other purpose?
Alternately, if you’re part of a tighter unit, tell the individuals how it might benefit them personally. Whether it’s for the experience, the chance up break up monotony, or the addition of a new process, system, software, or general skill your associates have an interest in learning, there’s bound to be some hook to catch their interest.
Explain why the change is good for you
If your suggested change seems too altruistic, particularly if the change is good for you or your career, you could lose buy-in. Worse, if the team suspects you’ve created this change only to benefit yourself, it will likely sour the change process, no matter how advantageous it could be for everyone else.
If this new idea promotes your own personal brand somehow, own it. Don’t hide what you have to gain personally—just don’t lead with it.
Be honest about what to expect
Telling your team, even roughly, what to expect through a change process will start building confidence that you’re the person who knows what’s at risk and what’s involved. Tell your stakeholders about delays and complications, and be sincere and honest. No change ever happens without interruption and difficulty.
Be ready to answer questions concerning anticipated time frame, how much effort will be required from the team, and what sacrifices will be needed. Don’t gloss over the challenges ahead but focus on the expected outcomes as much as possible.
Honesty leads to clarity--which you will never get if you brush away concerns.
Acquiring essential buy-in at the beginning will get the change process off to a good start. With your steady hand at the rudder, there will hopefully be smooth sailing the rest of the way.