Improve Employee Buy In With a Little “Token Say”


As much as
you strive (or should strive) to seek out feedback and include members of your
team in the decision making process, at some point you’re likely going to be
tasked with instituting programs, goals, or policies they’re probably not going
to agree with (ahhh the challenges
of being a manager
). And when that happens, you basically have two
options–roll it out without asking for input or ask for input even though it
won’t really have any bearing on your ultimate decision (this usually happens
when you’ve been given a mandate by your boss). In the end, both options will arrive
at the same outcome, but one will help you secure more buy in from your staff
and while at the same time going a long way in maintaining employee morale.

When you
roll something out, especially when it’s going to directly impact those on your
team, and you don’t give them the heads up, it’s a lot like throwing a grenade
and then waiting for the collateral damage. Over the years, I’ve seen this
happen more than a few times. Decisions were made without consulting the
leaders and managers who would be the most affected by them…managers who were
rock stars in their field and who had spent years helping to build the

The other
alternative is to give
employees a say
, even if it’s a token one at that. If you’re going to set
goals for an operating unit, especially if they’re audacious
(and who isn’t a fan of those?), schedule a meeting with the team,
explain the purpose of the goals and what you’re hoping to accomplish by
instituting them, ask for feedback, and then make a decision. Even if you think
you’re going to have to institute changes irrespective of the feedback from the
group, there’s a pretty good chance something will come up during the
discussion that could make the roll out more effective. For example, they might
have information on a particular measure that would change the way you’d want
to capture information. If you don’t ask, you could be chasing the wrong
metrics. And that will cause a backlash.


Instead of
just blindsiding your team with an email on a new mandate without giving them
any advanced warning, consider letting them a token say even if the mandate is
pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career
Services at the University
of Pittsburgh and author
of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job


About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning.