No matter what the situation, trying to get buy-in can be any leader’s bigger challenge.
The fear of the unknown, whether it’s a major policy change or entering a brand new market, is enough to keep even your biggest supporters quiet.
The next time you’ve got to rally the team and get people on your side, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep the perfect balance
There are four maxims in every healthy conversation, according to British philosopher Paul Grice. These are especially effective when you’re trying to get buy-in, because they communicate the right information in the right way:
- Quantity: Give people just enough information. You don’t want to bombard them with a tidal wave of graphs, charts, data or reports. Instead, pick the most important aspects and relay that info.
- Quality: Like most situations, being genuine will work in your favor here. Don’t add glitz to information you want people to digest as facts – it’s distracting and takes away from your message. Grice says it perfectly: “If I need sugar …. I do not expect you to hand me salt.”
- Relation: Everyone has the same question in their minds: How does this affect me, and what’s expected of me? Spell it out for them and make them see how important their part is.
- Manner: This one serves as a combination between quantity and quality: Deliver your message in a clear and quick manner.
- Acknowledge the emotions
Let’s say you’re trying to get your team’s buy-in to switch to a different email provider. There’s going to be a wide range of emotions: fear, nerves, uncertainty, even a lack of trust. Go in prepared and ask yourself how each person will feel about the change.
During your pitch, let people know that you understand their feelings and concerns – and address each one. After all, the best leader is the one who communicates through emotions, not just facts and numbers. And since women are pros when it comes to being empathic, this is the perfect time to use it to your advantage.
- Repeat again and again
Staffers need to hear the same information three to five times before they actually believe the message being delivered, according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.
That doesn’t mean you have to give them the same pitch over and over again. Instead, try different means of communication – you could, for example, start with a memo, follow up with a meeting and end with a closure email.
- Avoid weasel words
We’ve all done it – inflated a few words here or there to make your message have a bigger meaning – especially when trying to get people on-board with an idea. But these weasel words, as author Seth Godin says, are just a fancy way to dress up empty words. Since that can mean the difference between getting a person’s buy-in or not, avoid weasel words such as:
- “Nearly [a certain number]”
Addressing staffers through both their heads and their hearts covers all your bases, and shows you have everyone’s best interests in mind. That, coupled with your credibility and professionalism, will have your team standing with you in any scenario.