Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • February 29, 2020
  • minute read

How Much Buy-In Is Too Much? 

How much time and energy should you put in to achieving buy-in? 

Is it vital - or even important to get everyone's buy-in to everything? Or is it ok to sometimes just press on regardless?

In today's video I share how to identify the need for buy-in on a case-by-case basis - and how to achieve it:

[If you missed the previous video in this series you can view it here.]

Please leave your questions and observations in the comments below!

Running time: 07' 40"     Don't forget to leave your comments below!

Read Transcript

In our last video, we looked at the issue of Empowerment - ensuring that everybody in your organization not only feels empowered but actually IS empowered, and we saw that achieving empowerment comprises three moving parts.

First of all, we've got the need for buy-in. That is, for your folks to both understand and assent to what's going on - to major changes, major decisions that you make. 

And secondly, having the Authority to both initiate and manage that change.

And thirdly, Agency - that is, the skills and resources to actually make it happen. 

Now when those three are combined, that's where we have true empowerment throughout the organization. But in this video, I want to start looking at each of those
three individual aspects (buy-in, authority and agency) and answering the question - "Do we always need to have all of them in operation". 

Now you may recall in fact that this whole discussion arose in the Predictable Success Mastermind Group, when we were talking about the first of these three circles: the whole issue of buy-in - achieving it, and specifically trying to answer the question "To what extent is it important to make the effort to get buy-in from folks who aren't necessarily impacted by a specific decision or piece of information?".

If they neither have authority nor agency - t's not something that they're directly involved in - then to whatextent do we need to, should we, work at achieving buy-in from those individuals? 

Well that type of buy-in is the buy-in that increases overall engagement throughout the organization. So it is important: the degree to which I understand what's going on around me - whether or not I'm you know, immediately impacted by all of it. The degree to which I do understandand and assent to what's going on in the organization I work in - that's going to have a direct positive impact on my engagement -- my discretionary effort, the degree to which I engage from day-to-day in what I'm doing.

So it is important, but to what extent do we need to really push the boat out? Does this mean that we should be having an all-staff meeting for every piece of information, every decision that we make,involving everybody in the organization? 

Well the guide that I want you to think about in terms of "To what extent do I as a growth leader engage in engagement?" in reaching out and getting buy-in from people, can best be answered by putting yourself in their position, and answering this question "To what extent would this information, or this decision have impacted my original decision to join this organization?" 

Now obviously this is going to be on a sliding scale here, and I'm going to give you a couple of examples. 

So, you know, let's say we're going to repaint the canteen. Well, that piece of information probably would have had zero impact at all on my decision to join the organization. The canteen walls are green and are going to be painted blue - fine. Knock yourself out. 

On the other hand, you know, [maybe] we're going to stop serving all day free snacks in the canteen. Would that have had an impact on my original decision to join theorganization? Maybe a little. Maybe it would be one of a number of factors, who knows. 

What about the fact that we're shutting down the canteen entirely? No more on-site refreshments. Bring your own. Well, yeah, you know that - depending on my role in the organization - could well have had a pretty large impact on my decision.

And fully rewriting the entire health and benefits for everybodyin the organization? That would probably impact a lot. 

Now the various decisions that you make and are thinking about communicating are not all going to be about compensation,health and benefits and so forth, but you can use this prism for any decision that you've implemented as a team, that you're thinking about communicating to the wider group. Just think about this - to what extent would that decision or new piece of information have impacted their decision to join the organizationin the first place?

If the answer is 'not at all', then you can provide that information on what I'm terming Self Service availability. That means just putting it on a shared drive, you know, if you use some sort of email newsletter, you can put it in there. If you've got a chat channel that's used internally, maybe you'll put it up in there. You make the information available in a way that folks can see it - you're being transparent, you're putting the information out there. That all helps with engagement, and if it's something that really has zero impact on me, that's all I probably need is to know - that if I want to know about [this] stuff I can go see it.

If on the other hand this would have had, you know, perhaps some sort of an impact on me and my decision to be here, then it's good to put it on that self-service availability, but also ping me with a push notification. You're familiar from your phone with what push notifications are. It's something that says hey, you know this is something that you shouldn't miss - come get this little piece of information: still self service, but we're pinging you and letting you know that it's good for you to know. 

If this is something that would have impacted me a lot, then that's where you've got to start engaging in in-person group communications, taking time (whether it's you or your managers or your co-leaders or colleagues) to actually have an all-team meeting, or an all-staff [meeting]. 

And whoever it is, the group that would have been impacted to a great degree - they deserve to be told in person (that could be a zoom session - it doesn't always have to be you standing on a chair in a physical room, it could besome sort of a web-based conference) - something that gives the facility for Q&A. 

And if the decision or new piece of information is something that would have absolutely impacted anyone's decision to be in the organization, they deserve additionally to receive some in person, one-on-one - whether with you or their direct manager depends on your org structure.

Now all of this builds from left to right. Everything that is non-trivial, that you want to share, should be available on a self-service basis using some process, some piece of software, some communication device - you put everything there. And then on top of that you add the push notifications to the people who you feel should be alerted to it. On top of that you overlay some group communications, and on top of those then you take the folks aside who deserve the one-on-one time with you or with your colleagues. And so it builds from left to right.

So that's really how to look at the degree of engagement you need to have in building engagement, by communicating to people about information and decisions that don't directly impact them - where they have neither Authority nor Agency to do anything about it. 

In our next video we're going to look at these two other categories under the buy-in circle. What about folks who have buy-in and Authority but no Agency? And folks who have Buy-in and Agency, but no Authority?


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