Buy-In: Up and Down the Organization

Buy In

What is “buy-in”? For me, buy-in is the state achieved by a group of people, after they have worked through the most likely possibilities and agreed on what seems to be the best option at the time.  It is not about swearing undying loyalty to a cause or suppressing one’s own ideas and concerns.

How do we help our teammates and direct reports – and even those to whom we report – reach this important stage? We can start by remembering that it is not change, per se, that people resist. It’s actually the sense of “being changed” that results in most people digging in their heels. Being told what to think about and which perspective to take is a sure way to get my back up. You, too? (Yes, I thought so.)

Furthermore, recognize that any change worth making is bound to generate some resistance. No push-back means that the change probably isn’t very important. The vital point is whether the people who are pushing back are raising valid points. Are they intelligent, engaged people whose resistance challenges us to search for better answers? If the answer to such questions is yes, then invite the resisters into the tent where they can be useful. They obviously care about the outcome.

So, the short answer is that buy-in is the flip side of resistance, and my definition of resistance is “the negative expression of an unmet need.”

Self-knowledge is the foundation

I know that I need to acknowledge and work with my own needs, strengths, and style preferences. But do I practise what I preach?One of the most important things to understand is one’s pre-disposition toward authority.  Do I tend toward counter-dependent behaviour – i.e., resent and rebel; or, do I over-react in the other direction and become strongly compliant, which is just as damaging. The latter assumes a parent/child relationship that does not lead to good business decisions.

If we want to create greater buy-in, the onus ultimately is on me and you, the subordinates, first to understand ourselves to the best of our ability, and then to extend similar understanding to those in the organization who depend on us –  above, below and all around.

Copyright(c) 2013 Carol J. Sutton Cert.ConRes.

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