Have your employees approached you with what they feel is an amazing idea to help your company succeed? Maybe they envision a way to streamline a particular task, they have identified a new client service opportunity, or they have discovered an untapped market. Your ongoing success is not only dependent on your personal efforts, the unique input of your teams will ensure you are optimizing your business capabilities. Employees should have a time and place for presenting ideas. Getting your buy-in is achieved through timely and appropriate communication. You can help your team present their ideas successfully by showing them a process. Give your team members the metaphorical thumbs up to share ideas, engage their unique abilities, and avoid feeling like their input fades into an abyss. How do your teams get your buy-in?
What Is Buy-In?
Buy-in is defined as the approval or acceptance of a proposed idea. Idea-sharing should be an outcome of a team structure that develops employees as unique business contributors, not job holders. If you want to motivate your teams to do their best work and cultivate high-performing teams with a stake in company growth, they will need to understand how to get your buy-in. Getting your buy-in on new ideas requires you to provide planned opportunities for your team to pitch ideas to you and to other company leaders. To successfully participate in company growth employees need to know how to communicate an idea; why it is important, when to share ideas, how to share them, and what to expect as a result.
Don’t assume that managers will be your buffer to buy-in on team ideas. In a small business environment all members are impactful to growth and individual efforts should be considered as part of a cohesive movement toward advancement or improvement. Your employees with management responsibilities may have limits on their decision-making authority and they will benefit from a process for streamlining idea presentation and acceptance.
Share these components of idea cultivation to help your employees get your buy-in. The essential parts of the idea-sharing process helps to move an idea from a concept to an actionable plan. When employees propose an idea as a benefit to the company and include doable steps to activate the idea, they will attract your attention and keep it.
1. Refine An Idea
Our clients that include growth goals into regular team meeting agendas are far more successful in their ability to compete in their markets. Teach your employees how to refine an idea by connecting it to revenue and profit. When employees are informed of company growth goals, they can think in terms of return on investment or the ROI of an idea. A clear ROI of an idea enables you to determine the right timing for implementation.
Don’t sell employees short. They can understand the finances of an idea. Before approaching you to obtain buy-in, employees must consider why an idea is worth the cost. You will consider the financial impact of a new idea when determining whether to approve it. Employees should not assume that a new idea provides more financial value than the amount of money it costs to implement, they should be able to explain.
Explaining the finances will help employees to connect an idea to real actionable growth. To get your buy-in they need to understand how much money it will cost to implement, the financial value of a new idea once implemented, and whether a new idea will generate more revenue for your company beyond the cost of implementation.
To increase your chances of giving buy-in, your team should refine their ideas to provide a clear concept and an actionable plan. A new idea should start with why an idea is important to his/her role and to company revenue and/or profitability. Refining an idea means proposing it in a way that clearly reveals how it can benefit your company and why it’s worth the cost of implementing.
2. The Right Timing
Random idea-sharing rarely gets put into action. The right timing for sharing ideas will enable your employees to connect and prepare. Connecting an idea to growth, how it generates revenue and/or improves profitability, makes it credible and worth your time. Catching you in the hallway or during the last five minutes of a Zoom call is not the right timing. Scheduling separate meetings to share ideas requires you to meet with employees more often than your schedule may allow, and takes your attention away from areas of your business where you should be spending time. Without the right timing to share ideas they are not presented and opportunities can be missed. A chance to capture the unique input of your employees should be intentional; it should be planned at regular frequency.
3. Communicate Clear Expectations
What happens after the idea sharing conversation is critical to maintaining employee motivation and momentum of business improvements. Your next steps should be clear and expectations managed. Next steps include the following communications to the employee teams before the idea-sharing meeting is adjourned.
- Determine whether additional conversations are needed in order to grant buy-in, whether the conversations will be part of the next idea-sharing meeting or in advance of the next meeting.
- Address missing information, such as obstacles to implementation and solutions, and what information is needed next.
- Establish the timing for communicating a decision to proceed or to delay an idea.
Giving the green light to implement a new process or service should not be daunting. When employees seek your buy-in, make the process intentional and motivate appropriate input. Leaders intend to be open, to listen to new ideas, but employees need to know how to communicate their ideas and when so that you both have your best chance to improve and to grow. A simple idea-sharing process invites and inspires employee input and develops their unique contributions to your business growth. Regular opportunities to share ideas avoid random conversations that have no finite starting point to activate and that never seem to take hold. Achieve your best opportunities to give buy-in to your teams and achieve your shared vision for growth.