Dealing with lack of strategy buy-in: 5 Approaches to handle lack of employee commitment

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Strategic buy-in is important to successful implementation. Without buy-in, employees may not be motivated to implement the strategy, they may not follow it, and implementation will likely suffer. But what do you do if employees are skeptical? This article considers ways of convincing skeptical employees.

Approach 1: Explain the strategy

The first component of convincing otherwise skeptical employees of the merit of the firm’s strategy is actually to explain the strategy, and the rationale for it, to them. Some of the best strategies are non-obvious, and if employees are only presented with a surface-level understanding of why you consider it to be a good approach, they may fail to see the benefits. Explaining the strategy to them, and why the strategy makes sense, may help illustrate the bigger picture, and help encourage them to get on board. 

Approach 2: Involve employees in developing it

Another approach to get some buy-in is to actively involve employees in developing parts of the strategy, or at least some of the implementation details. Gaining the input, feedback, and suggestions of employees can help make them feel as though their opinions are valued, and in turn help with commitment to the approach. 

Approach 3: Understand and address their concerns

Another component of getting buy-in is actively listing and addressing employee concerns. The reluctance to buy-into the strategy may for example be because employees are scared of the impact that the strategy will have on their job security. Depending on the concerns, listening, reassuring, and taking steps to illustrate that they need not worry may be an important component of increasing employee commitment.

Approach 4: Reduce uncertainty through experimentation

Sometimes there are lingering uncertainties with a strategy, and this uncertainty is the cause of employee skepticism. They simply don’t believe that something is likely to happen or are uncertain about the outcome. 

Experimentation is one approach to help reduce these concerns. By identifying ways of testing particular assumptions, and verifying that these assumptions hold, you may be better placed to allay concerns.

Approach 5: Illustrate the value of the strategy: Gain early wins

While is easier said than done, but a final approach to gaining strategic buy-in is to actually demonstrate the value of the strategy by gaining and celebrating success

Early successes can have a profound impact – they illustrate that the approach that is being suggested is possible, helping to convince otherwise skeptical employees of its merit – which in turn can help drive further success in a virtuous cycle. Even if it is not possible to demonstrate the success of the whole project, having some demonstrable success in parts of it can help encourage others to get behind the strategy. 

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