Knowing how to secure buy-in for your ideas at work is an incredibly useful skill. You can establish yourself as a go-getter, connect with stakeholders across the company, and collaborate on interesting, challenging projects.
So, how do you get started? When asked how to get organizational buy-in for your ideas, here’s what our community had to say:
Establish trust and credibility first
Before even beginning to pitch your ideas, make sure your work is trusted and respected among your team. Doing this may require an upfront investment. As John Ware says, “the ‘trick’ is to develop the credibility in your group, department, company – whatever – every day, day after day.”
John Freeman adds that focusing your ideas will help you earn that credibility. Rather than throwing out each and every idea you have, hone in on the ones that matter — and the ones that are targeted to your job, your skills, or your interests. Freeman says he learned this skill through a manager’s advice: “‘Pick one idea that you think is the best and stick to it, drop everything else and use your focus of will on that one idea.’ My manager’s advice was like a pin in a grenade that unleashed my potential. I found that by focusing on one thing, I had no trouble gaining buy-in to just about anything I felt was important. I just needed to keep my focus.”
Earning credibility will make teammates and managers more receptive to your ideas. They’ll already have trust in your work ethic, your ideas, and your dedication to solving problems.
Float your ideas around
Rather than diving headfirst into a proposal on your idea’s merits, Anne Hengen suggests floating your ideas around first: “Have ‘the meeting before the meeting’ – in other words, socialize your ideas before you actually formally propose them.”
Perhaps more importantly, make sure you float your ideas by the right people within your organization. As John M. says, “The trick for me is to identify the centers of influence around the issue I was to address and meet with them first. Once I can build consensus, I go to the boss and sell it.”
Securing buy-in on a small scale before turning to the decision maker adds momentum to your idea. “When anyone sees multiple people in agreement on an issue,” John M. says, “it tends to lend credibility to that issue and makes them more likely to agree.”
Actively seek (and listen to) feedback
Don’t view feedback or suggestions as a threat to your idea. Instead, welcome feedback as a chance to strengthen your idea and its feasibility. As James Phetteplace says, “None of us own business problems or their solutions. The appropriate way to approach a business problem is to assume best intent from your colleagues, and to open yourself to a diversity of ideas and perspectives.”
Asking for feedback doesn’t just strengthen your initial idea. “Seeking feedback on an idea is one of the best ways to gain buy-in from others,” says Freeman. “When they engage you with their thoughts, you have them hooked.”
John Wolfsberger suggests presenting your vision, then asking questions like “Would we be better off if…” or “If people saw us doing this, what would….”
By asking these questions, you’ll make your listeners feel they have a voice in the creation process. Plus, Wolfsberger says they’ll ultimately be more receptive to the idea if they’ve contributed feedback to the concept.
Get others involved
Once you’ve floated your idea around and sought feedback from others, Hengen says to “be sure to give others credit when it’s due.”
Do this by dropping complete ownership over your idea. “When convincing others, be sure to talk about ‘the idea,’ not ‘my idea.’ Egos are your enemy, presenting something as ‘yours’ means it can’t also be ‘theirs.’ Speak in terms of ‘we’ and ‘us,’ and sometimes ‘you.’ Business is a team, not individual, sport.”
People want to be recognized for their contributions at work. Once they feel they’ve contributed to your idea, they’re much more likely to buy into its success over the long term. Their contribution will often equate to their commitment.
- Before pitching your idea, establish credibility among your organization
- Give your idea momentum by introducing it to others, before you formally present about it
- Strengthen the concept by soliciting feedback
- Remember, securing buy-in is about more than just your pitch to the decision maker, soet others involved as early as possible.