If only launching a new product or business initiative were easy as simply saying it. Many projects never see the light of day simply because the person behind the concept fails to champion the idea effectively and gain any sort of meaningful buy-in among peers and higher-up executives. Many of those projects may have been worthwhile in the long haul, but because they were not promoted effectively, they were never even given the chance.
So, how can people gain buy-in more effectively and maximize their ability to champion ideas to others? Here are a few potential strategies managers and business leaders can use:
1. Help people understand that change and innovation is good
While the economic recession is a thing of the past for many businesses, some executives and budget-holders are still very cautious about pursing new ideas and projects. They would rather take low-risk, low-reward options so even if they fail, the result will not be disastrous.
However, taking such a risk-averse approach is bad for the company in the long haul. One of the first steps toward gaining buy-in while championing ideas is helping others understand that change is not bad – in fact, it is necessary for businesses to continue to grow and expand, as well as capitalize on new trends and opportunities.
In some cases, the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality is appropriate, but that is not always the optimal approach.
2. Maintain good communication
Getting an executive to sign off on a project is only one hurdle. If managers were already having difficulty getting others on board with initiatives, the worst thing they can do is cease communication – that will only make decision-makers second-guess their choice. Open communication and regular follow up is paramount for building – and maintaining – buy-in.
"Stay connected to ensure that everyone is clear about the mission that they are working toward. Keep an open-door policy as much as possible," advised Entrepreneur magazine contributor Lindsay Broder. "If that's not feasible, consider making yourself available via email or during certain hours of the day. It's important that employees let you know when challenges arise. That's not to say you should listen to every gripe and complaint, but you can let everyone know you are empathetic to their concerns and are willing to work with them to find solutions."
3. Use the right influence style
Each person is different and as such, they will have varying responses to the same scenarios. Leaders and managers should not try to force square pegs into round holes – instead, they need to utilize the right influence style to engage the correct person. If people are having trouble championing an idea and having the desired impact, it is likely they are not using the correct influence style.
Championing new ideas is no easy task, but promoting the notion of change, maintaining good communication and using the right influence style are all steps in the right direction.