Leaders Use This Quick Buy-In Check For Teams

If you’re short on time, and need to check a team response to an idea, action item, or new direction, but you detect that a simple “show of hands” won’t tell the whole story, try this –

Ask for their response on this 1-to-5 scale:

5 = Totally agree. No reservations.

4 = Basically agree. Minor reservations, but nothing that I will dwell on.

3 = Not sure. See both sides. Could be swayed either way. OR – totally ambivalent.

2 = Basically disagree. Major reservations. Need some convincing. Won’t stand in the way, though, if I’m the only one. I understand we have to move on.

1 = Fundamentally disagree. I will not move on from this. This is a deal-breaker.

If trust is high on the team, you could go around and ask each person to share their number, with no explanation. Or, ask them to hold up the number of fingers that corresponds to their answer. (Warning – people who vote “1” can be creative with their choice of which finger to extend.)

If you’re unsure of the trust level, you can create cards and keep them handy. Give each person a stack of cards that has the numbers on them. To go the extra mile, color code them:

5 is a green card, 4 is blue, 3 is yellow, 2 is orange, and 1 is red.

If the team is sitting at nearly all 4s and 5s, with perhaps one or two 3s, you might be able to call that consensus and move on. If it’s a very impactful decision, you’ll want to explore the reasons people voted “3”.

If there’s a 1, you must address that. Also, if there are several 2s, you’d be wise to discuss.

If one team member is a consistent outlier, a conversation with that person is in order, in a one-on-one.

The possible combinations are too many to strictly prescribe a course of action for each,

but if you move from a “show of hands” to a “one through five” vote, you’ll likely have more meaningful discussions, and/or greater confidence on decisions made.

What do you think?

  1. Tom Henricksen
    | Reply

    This reminds me of the “Fist of Five” in Scrum teams when you vote about adding something to your sprint. Consensus can be hard to achieve but, it is good to get an idea of where the team stands. Thanks for sharing this Alan!

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