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Seven ways to guarantee buy-in from your team
Securing buy-in from your team is fundamental to any manager, at any level. And never more so than in times of enormous change as organisations attempt to get out of recession and stimulate growth. Here, organisational psychologist Cary L Cooper, CBE, provides seven ways to obtain buy-in during these turbulent times.
inManagement magazine issue 12, September 2013
1 - Engage staff in decision-making that affects, or has implications, for their job.
This is a critical feature of any process of getting buy-in by staff, and research shows that engagement delivers to the bottom line. The Engage for Success movement, which has collected a great deal of organisational data on the impact of engagement among managers, found that 25% of businesses with the highest engagement scores among their employees have two and half times more revenue, twice as much profit, nearly a fifth (18%) higher productivity and two-fifths less staff turnover than those organisations with lower engagement scores.
2 - Adopt a praise/reward management style rather than a fault-finding one.
Another important aspect of buy-in is to adopt a management style based on rewarding success by praising employees when they do a good job, and providing them with constructive feedback with they need development. The recession has led to an increase in a more autocratic and bureaucratic management style, as the CMI Quality of Working Life survey in 2012 found. (The survey is a cohort study of 10,000 UK managers, which Cooper co-wrote with Professor Les Worrall.)
3 - Co-create with them the vision you all want for the team.
In many organisations, managers and senior executives develop their vision and then attempt to get their staff to sign up to it. Co-creating this vision is more important and gets greater and more sustained buy-in.
4 - Don't take credit for their achievements.
All too often managers take the credit for the efforts and work of their staff, which leads to resentment and an enormous void between them, which means that staff buy-in tends to be problematic as employees question the manager's motives.
5 - Be kind and supportive of them individually.
As the Nobel Prize winner Issac Beshivas Singer once wrote "kindness, I have discovered, is everything in life". Knowing your staff personally, supporting them in their careers and the issues that might arise in their personal lives, is a way of nurturing loyalty and commitment, which are the foundation stones for buying-in on change.
6 - Give your team autonomy.
Trust is an important part of any good working relationship, and trust builds if people feel they have autonomy and support to do their jobs. All too frequently people are micromanaged, which can make them resentful of their line manager. So when the time comes to introduce change, a manager's human capital may be depleted and buy-in either rejected or reluctantly accepted but not implemented.
7 - Be open and transparent, and not political, in your relationship with them.
The former President Ronald Reagan once remarked: "I've always believed that a lot of the troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other." Managers who are deceptive and manipulative, saying one thing to one person and another to another colleague, tend not to be trusted, and buy-in is less easily obtained.
Cary L Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School and co author of the recent book Building Resilience for Success, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
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