Imagine yourself in a public seminar, you’ve been asked to complete a short one-page worksheet individually, there is a front and back to this one-pager, it will require about 15 minutes of your time to complete. Suddenly about six minutes into the activity the facilitator shouts stop. You glance around and many facial expressions show frustration because there was insufficient time to finish. Are you bought-in to this activity?
Change efforts require buy-in. Often supervisors and managers are charged with creating a winning environment by making sure all employees buy-in to the most recent change effort. One problem with creating buy-in is that many people are not sure how to do it. What might be worse is that the consequences for not creating it are very big. We can quickly think of things such as a lack of engagement, change resistance, and perhaps the worst consequence, change failure.
Shared experiences help to create buy-in and we achieve a stronger connection when we experience the same situations or circumstances. During my career I’ve witnessed organizations and employee teams make huge come backs from very adverse conditions. One manufacturing plant was completely flooded by a nearby stream, and a mechanical services company burned to the ground in a fire. Fortunately, no one lost their life or was injured in either of these cases but the financial burden was tremendous. In both cases, these businesses had to shut down for a short period of time, regroup, manage customers, vendors, and employees, not to mention make payroll. Both of these businesses emerged from near devastation because the employees teamed up, worked together, and brought them back to life. They became stronger than ever before, in part because they shared in the experience and the difficulty of the adverse condition.
Certainly no organization wishes or purposely chooses to have such an extreme experience such as a fire or flood, and to strengthen buy-in, it’s not required. Buy-in created through shared experiences can happen through appropriately constructed training programs, inclusion in strategy or planning meetings, or even by allowing a team to work on a project together where each individual has a specific job task or role that they must complete without assistance or takeover from someone else in the group. Too often in the spirit of teamwork a faster moving employee will help an employee lagging behind on a team project. This is great in the spirit of teamwork, and often required to be timely and efficient; one drawback is that the employee who lags behind does not become as bought-in as they otherwise would have. The best employees and teams find a balance when managing this type of effort or project.
Back to that seminar, without enough time to complete the worksheet it in its entirety you most likely were not bought-in. You didn’t share in the experience and additional debriefing and learning points expressed by the facilitator most likely did not create sufficient knowledge transfer.
If you want buy-in, create more shared experiences.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.