We all have things we’re “supposed” to do. Sometimes we want to do them, sometimes we don’t. This is just a fact of life.
In the workplace, we label these as tasks or objectives. The basic premise is the same, however. Employees are either engaged and bought-in to completing these tasks to the best of their ability or they’re not.
Have you really ever stopped to think about what holds people back from being completely engaged in a task or activity?
When it comes to engagement and buy-in, there are four main approaches to work:
1) Resistant to engaging
The employee won’t take positive action. Maybe they don’t feel like it’s worth it, or they’ve tried before and failed. The chance of success is low.
2) Engaged, but through effort or force
The employee is enthusiastic about the activity, but they feel unprepared somehow to effectively complete the work. Success will take personal effort or force from external sources.
3) Engaged by default
The employee has the skills and ability to perform the task, but they don’t want to use their discretionary energy for this work. But, someone (probably their boss) is expecting them to complete the task, so they feel they don’t have a choice.
4) Engaged by choice
When an employee chooses to engage, they dedicate total focus to the task at hand. Success is inevitable!
As a leader, your main purpose is to create an environment that helps each employee perform optimally and to maximize his/her potential to grow them into our future leaders.
To lead effectively requires involving employees in decisions affecting their work.
Gaining employee buy-in involves being transparent about why you’re asking them to do something a certain way, and also communicating the benefits to the employee for putting in the effort.
When employees have a clear understanding and are committed to taking responsible action their results will positively reflect their buy-in.
Yet many leaders don’t lead; they manage (AKA control) their employees.They tell them what to do, by when, often without much of an explanation, and then they wonder why things aren’t getting done effectively.
No adult likes to be told what to do!
Employees’ best results are achieved when they consciously choose to engage in whatever they’re doing, whether it’s a goal, a project task, or a conversation with someone.
In several coaching conversations with executives over the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting a list of some of the excuses leaders have heard from their employees.
I’ve used these situations as leverage to coach the leaders on how to create better buy-in and results on their teams!
Here are 5 clues that your employees aren’t buying in (and what you can do about it):
1) “I didn’t/don’t have time to…”
This actually means, “I don’t want to.” We make the time to do the things that are most important to us.
> The bigger question here is why wasn’t the activity important to them?
2) “I’ll try…”
To quote Yoda, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” When someone says this, a big red flag should go up because this signals a lack of commitment. It does not necessarily indicate that they can’t do the work, just that they feel forced.
It goes back again to choice.
> What will it take for them to make a choice they can follow through on?
3) “Our team is so busy!”
and “We don’t have enough resources to…” This could mean that the employee isn’t effectively including others in the scope of work, meaning they’re trying to do it all themselves (not trusting others or delegating). Or, it could go back to the time excuse and lack of importance.
> How can the employee (creatively) use their time and resources more effectively to accomplish the goal?
4) “My customers are already happy…”
Decoded as “I think this is stupid,” or “I don’t understand why…”
Again, when people resist taking action, it can be because they do not have a clear line of sight to the way their tasks are linked to the overall strategic goals or the impact their lack of action has on other parts of the team.
> How can you share the vision more clearly to get greater commitment?
5) “We would have gotten it done but EMPLOYEE in X DEPARTMENT held us up!”
I love this one! It’s always easier to point the finger at someone else rather than take personal responsibility.
> What could the employee have done/do differently to ensure that all team members were equally committed to action also?
> How can they communicate needs differently (to you, to the other members) if project items are falling behind?
Leaders reading this article, what other excuses have you heard from your teams?
How did you handle those situations and what will you commit to doing differently after reading these tips?
If you’re interested in learning more about coaching to create greater engagement and buy-in with your teams, please schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call with me.
You can also download my free gift, “The Rule-Breaker’s Guide to Managing Your Energy at Work” to begin taking back control of your energy and success!