Change Communication Engagement Leadership Vision

How to earn the buy-in of your people

People need to feel that you mean business and are willing to put your future on the line with the change you’re initiating.

You know something needs to change. You’re giving it all your efforts. 

The blood, sweat, and tears you put into this project must be successful for your company to survive.

But nobody is moving.

The results worsen. People are demotivated, overstretched, and beginning to burn out.

Some are leaving. Who? Those you will miss most? Why?

Because the best people always go first. 

Because they have alternatives. 

They have given their all for you and the company, but there’s a limit. And when that limit is reached, they decide to leave.

You’re not the only gig in town.

This happens all the time. They leave executives in pure despair, not knowing what they could have done differently.

The reason is quite simple.

People don’t like change. 

Most people hate it. They prefer the status quo. They like their routines, their habits, and their rituals.

Tiny example.

When we changed the product placement plan of a supermarket (called planogram), customers hated it.

Suddenly, they couldn’t find their favorite products anymore. They were losing time. And left in frustration.

When we realized this, we added extra people to the stoor directly after a remodel to take customers by the hand and walk them to their products. 

We had store maps for them that we handed out. We communicated which products we had newly introduced and which products were discontinued. We didn’t leave it to chance.

Again. We did not leave it to chance.

They were often unhappy, but they saw that we did everything to limit the burden.

Why do we often not get our customers’ or people’s buy-in? 

Because we overlook a few steps.

First, we think that we have done our job by simply stating what is changing. That’s the least you can do, and it never works.

There’s more required.

You need to explain why a change is required. Why is the current situation no longer satisfactory? What is the burning platform that calls for a change?

You also need to explain clearly what your vision for the future is. How do you see the future? What’s in it for the people you’re asking to change? 

Then, you’ll need to explain the first actions you will take and what you need from your people. 

What do you need them to do? 

Don’t forget to explain to them how you will help them with this new action.

Last but not least.

You need to learn to speak to their heart and not their head. 

You can explain any change rationally to people, make all the sense of the world, and still fail miserably.

When people can’t feel why this change matters to you, they will never follow you.

When you can connect your heart to theirs and make it clear both rationally and emotionally, you have a chance.

In summary. 

People look at you for direction.

They need to feel that you mean business and are willing to put your future on the line with the change you’re initiating.

In the process, they will constantly look at whether you’re consistent with your word. 

You need to BE the change you want to see. You need to be a role model for what’s changing.

Are you prepared to do that?

Your turn: Ready to be the change you want to see?


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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