Creating Staff Buy-In

Author: Sarah Shannan

Creating Staff Buy In Challenges:

    • What roadblocks have you faced trying to implement new enrichment or behavior practices?
    • What resources did you use to create staff buy in?
    • What lessons have you learned from this process?
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Strategies for Gaining Staff Buy-In

  • Getting buy-in is encouraging others to support your vision of something. Getting buy-in does not mean 100% agreement with your vision but having the support of your team even if they don’t wholly agree with you.
    • Formulate a clear vision
      • The initial step in getting buy-in is to develop a clear vision of what you want to introduce. Having a clear vision can show others you believe it’s a good idea. Formulating a vision entails:
      • Defining the problem
      • Providing concrete examples of the solution
      • Backing up your solution with solid reasoning
      • Providing data and metrics to support your solution
      • Conveying the risks in your plan
    • Invite others’ ideas
      • Invite your audience to improve your idea through criticism and opinions. Make them feel part of the process and may be more likely to support your viewpoint.
      • Giving time to understand the vision
      • Answering questions
      • Acknowledging criticism and using it to further explain your plan
      • Showing a genuine interest in others’ opinion
    • Leverage feedback
      • Use the team’s feedback to improve the original idea. People may be more likely to commit to action if they feel their ideas are part of the plan. Acknowledge everyone who contributed by saying “our plan.” Communicate in a way that shows its a team effort.
    • Communicate progress
      • Keep everyone updated about the progress. If there are milestones achieved, you can communicate them to the team to help motivate them. There could be some concerns or resistance, but you can collaborate with them to address these emerging issues. A good starting point might be to ask the team what you can do to make them comfortable with the plan or process.
    • Tailor your pitch to your audience
      • Organize pre-meetings with key players to pitch your vision in advance. Pitching the idea to key players can also allow you to familiarize yourself with the audience’s goals, motivations and values. Addressing the concern of key influencers may give you an easier time winning the support of others.
    • Create an image of change
      • Create an image of the benefits of change and show your audience why taking action is necessary.
    • Show the benefits of your plan
      • Showing how the plan is going to help the organization, staff, animals, etc.
    • Lead your team by example
      • It can be easier to get buy-in from a team if you lead by example. If an idea requires changes of staff, first make the changes yourself to show team members you are prepared to do what you’re asking them to do.
    • Be prepared to compromise
      • Sometimes an original idea isn’t quite workable and may need some change to move forward. Be prepared to accept a compromise if your audience doesn’t agree with your entire vision or even part of it.
    • Leverage the power of repetition
      • Getting buy-in is a process that may require repeating your message regularly in different forums and in various ways.
    • Work on your message framing
      • How you package your message can also determine how much your team buys into your idea. A vision’s place on an organization’s priority list may depend on how you frame the plan.
    • Regulate and be aware of emotions
      • Getting buy-in is an interpersonal activity, often with high stakes involved. Selling your vision is likely to stir emotions such as passion and anger, which, if appropriately directed, may improve your chances of securing a commitment from others.
    • Understand audience motivation
      • If you understand what motivates your audience, you may be more likely to get buy-in from them.
    • Master the art of timing
      • Finding the right time to raise your ideas can be critical in securing buy-in.
    • Adhere to organizational norms
      • Understanding your organizational norms can help you know how best to sell your vision. Some people prefer formal approaches while others are more likely to be swayed by casual, off-the-record conversations.
    • Use a combination of tactics
      • Using a single tactic to sway a mixed audience might not be overly successful. You can combine different tactics to increase your chances of getting buy-in for your vision.

How to Gain Buy In from Employees in the
Face of Fear and Apathy:
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  • Share the journey of your thinking.
    • Share with them your thought-process, the different options you considered and why you think this is the best one.
  • Frame questions that illicit a real response.
    • Rather than asking “What does everyone think?” ask: “What works and doesn’t work about this solution/initiative/option? or “What opportunities or challenges do you see that I don’t see?”
  • Do a round robin.
    • Instead of asking the group what they think, take some time and go from person to person and request they share their thoughts, questions and concerns. In a group setting, many people are more comfortable when given a designated speaking opportunity.
  • Be vulnerable and share your humanity.
    • Let people know you’re simply trying to come up with the best solution and that you’re fallible – that’s why you have a team – because you’re better together!
  • Really address concerns.
    • Don’t brush them off. Don’t avoid them. Go straight towards them and dig in. Until you address concerns, you will not get buy-in.
  • Encourage vulnerability.
    • Similarly, thank people when they share concerns. Remember, for many people, to share their apprehension is to be vulnerable.
  • Don’t be attached.
    • Make sure you’re not attached to your solution such that your body language screams when someone questions its validity. Your team will never speak up again. Instead, consider saying, “Good point and thank you for bringing that up.”