Leaders Push Buy-In Gently

Following a recent training session, a manager expressed their frustration about not getting buy-in from a team member. “Almost everyone on my team puts this into practice, except for a few. What am I supposed to do when someone doesn’t buy in—especially when I know how well it works?”

We dug into the problem and realized the team members having issues with buy-in mostly work on solo projects. However, the topic that day focused on team-oriented working relationships. The nature of their solo projects had never presented an opportunity to apply collaborative work concepts.

Leaders must provide hands-on opportunities for team members to apply new procedures.

Someone provided a helpful analogy about using a fire extinguisher, which is similar to my shoe-tying analogy. Verbal instructions may not be sufficient when there is no emergency. However, the basic knowledge is there. When there is a fire, though, attention heightens, allowing for recall of previous instructions. That’s when the buy-in process is complete.

In this case, the resistance came from two individuals despite the supervisor’s excitement over the session content. So the supervisor increased their enthusiasm in hopes of getting their support. Instead, the opposite occurred, and team members resisted more.

When we push too hard, people push back harder. 

When an employee thinks a concept is irrelevant to their work, using words to communicate relevancy may not help. Instead, the employee may require hands-on application. Encouraging employee buy-in will serve everyone, as it leads to increased engagement.

The best approach to solidify buy-in is to wait for the need to arise. I encourage leaders to find ways to reinforce learning from personal development events. We retain information better when it is relevant. After you’ve encouraged buy-in from others, check in to see where everyone stands.

To build buy-in, follow up training events by referring back to the content and wait for the opportune moment to explain the relevance.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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