Gain Buy-In and Move People to Action


Gain Buy-In and Move People to Action

To be effective in organizations today, we all need to influence others and gain buy-in, regardless of our role, tenure or function. Having coached countless leaders over the years, we see first-hand that most people influence incorrectly, thinking that the idea itself, the exertion of power, or one’s title alone will generate support or move people to action.

The real key to gain buy-in while also preserving -- or even deepening -- the relationship is the ability to shift your focus from “What do I want to tell them?” to “What do they need to hear from me to see the value?” In short, it’s about being externally focused.

THere are 3 easy steps to becoming more influential at work:



1. Stand in Their Shoes

We all value things differently. One person might value safety and security, while someone else may value just the opposite – taking risks and being the first to try something new. Think about the person you need to influence, and ask yourself, “What do they value?” “What motivates them?” and “What do they need in order to feel comfortable or excited about this idea?”

The more you determine what’s important to them, the more insight you have about how to get them on board. 


2. Make it Relevant

In order to influence, you need to answer the WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) from the other person’s perspective. How does your idea / recommendation impact or benefit them (personally and to the business)?   If there is no direct benefit, consider how their department or the company overall benefits. If you are still stumped, consider highlighting the potential negative impact of not pursuing your recommendation. For example, “If we do not change our strategy, we risk becoming stagnant or falling behind.”


3. Deliver with Care

As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Three ways to show you care: 

  • Resist the temptation to go into “tell” mode and instead, listen to their concerns and ask questions.  

  • Start with common ground, e.g., “Our overall goal for the business is to find creative ways to attract new users, which will ultimately drive revenue.”

  • Use “we” language instead of “you” and “I.” This indicates that we’re in this together.

It's likely that your success at work hinges on getting things done through other people over whom you have no formal authority. Though honing this skill takes time and patience, you’ll be far more confident and effective when it comes to generating alignment, commitment, engagement and buy-in.




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Hope Timberlake