We began the New Year searching for the “In” Crowd, talent possessing three critical “Ins”: Innate ability and Inherent desire, capable of delivering Intangibles that produce amazing results.
Assembling talent positions you at the base of the mountain. Reaching the summit requires a leader to strive for the 4th “In”: Buy In.
Buy In is the emotional connection a team shares with a common goal, vision, or culture. More importantly, it begins the process of believing in each other, that anything can be accomplished through the power of “One”.
This resultant clarity increases the sail area of a team’s potential, harnessing a collective energy powerful enough to overcome obstacles, manage through change, and sustain high-level performance.
Wow, Tall Tim, that sounds great . . . so how do I get my team to Buy In?
Great question. Whether selecting new talent or playing the hand you’re dealt, Buy In begins with the willingness of individuals to channel discretionary effort on behalf of the team.
Building trust through collaboration and consistency becomes paramount as the team moves from empowerment (self), through empathic empowerment (self plus), and into full engagement or Buy In (we).
Sounds like a simple process, and in many ways it is. Once you have achieved Buy In, reaching your summit relies on preparation, execution and desire.
The following are three Guideposts to follow along your journey:
Guidepost I: Climate of Collaboration
It’s human nature to seek relevance by asking “What’s in it for me?”
Answer the question with a question: “What do you think?”
Frontline employees routinely face obstacles that hinder or negatively impact performance. They also have the best perspective on any number of potential solutions, many that exist just beyond a leader’s vantage point.
Connect your team to the ultimate value of an endeavor by involving them in the planning process or when adjustments are necessary. Not to be confused with relinquishing control, soliciting input strengthens foundational trust through proactive awareness and insight.
Involvement during process improvement breeds a Climate of Collaboration. Within time, those employees will demonstrate the foresight to explore and suggest improvements, rather than wait to be prodded for input in response to a problem.
Guidepost II: Expand The Circle
While fully accountable for overall results, it is difficult to for a leader to hold everyone acutely accountable for their individual contributions.
Sooner or later, you’re spread too thin.
One recommendation is to entrust members of a team with identifying performance that falls short of expectations. Approached with the proper intention and professional maturity, teammates will embrace holding each other accountable, generating a new level of self-awareness and improving results.
“Whoa, wait a minute, Tall Tim. The last thing I need is for my team to start coming down on each other.”
It’s not about coming down . . . it’s about rising up.
Expanding the Circle of self-awareness calls for every employee to replace the victim or bystander mindset and operate with an “Owner’s Perspective”.
This is not intended to be judge and jury, but to perpetuate an overall awareness of what it takes to be successful.
Your current climate of collaboration may call for additional patience or baby steps to get awareness rolling.
Tall Tim Tidbit:
My line operators (Sautee, Grill, and Salad) were on station and prepping for the evening’s moderate business forecast. With the hum of a well-oiled culinary machine in place, I felt comfortable departing the Main Kitchen and attending the PM Operations meeting.
I returned to find the grill covered in chicken breasts and totally engulfed in flames. The only person left on station was Robert, our Lead Cook on Sautee, who had his back turned to the blazing poultry inferno.
Paraphrasing my initial inquiry for professional content, I asked “What happened?” and began frantically adjusting the grill and turning the chicken breasts to avoid total loss.
“Jimmy’s working Grill tonight” was his response.
“Yeah, I know” I replied, “Didn’t you see the chicken going up in flames? Why didn’t you turn the grill down or something?”
“’Cause Jimmy’s getting on my last nerve. That dude’s always leaving his station, leaving me to do his work. I’m tired of covering for him.”
This was a case of peer-to-peer conflict approached with a Bystander Mindset.
Robert was extremely talented, a true Culinary technician. While he personally possessed the three “Ins” (innate ability, inherent desire, delivering intangibles), his promotion to Lead Cook had yet to inspire Buy In beyond his personal circle. Hence, the absence of joint accountability.
Later, I asked Robert what he would have done if he was the owner of the restaurant. When terminating Jimmy was not accepted as a viable response, I rephrased the question to pinpoint the initial action he would have taken:
“I would have saved the chicken” he admitted. “Then I would fire Jimmy.”
We laughed, but the message became clearer to Robert.
Evidence of Buy In surfaces when someone chooses to protect the enterprise, taking action to safeguard progress toward a shared purpose and goal.
Robert admitted he was not comfortable enough in his role or development to address Jimmy’s behavior. Which I could identify with.
That the situation did not sit well with him was a positive sign of his self-awareness. I committed to partnering with him to expand his personal circle and influence others among the PM Staff. Including Jimmy, who wasn’t a bad person and quite talented in his own right. He just needed a nudge at times . . . and Robert became just the person to make that happen.
Guidepost III: A Cadence of Consistency
Nothing will derail progress toward Buy In faster than inconsistencies.
Change is a necessity in business and life. Adherence to the first two Guideposts creates an environment in which change may be embraced without jeopardizing the third: A Cadence of Consistency.
Having provided input during the planning process and expanding their circle of self-awareness, your team will already sense “why” change is necessary. Involving them in the continued process of suggesting adjustments or other appropriate action will serve to strengthen Buy In.
Change becomes exciting, knowing that you’re closing in on a target. Enthusiasm builds as you enact changes, measure results, and celebrate the accomplishment . . . as a team.
Once you have Buy In, recognize you’re in a committed relationship. This is what many will describe as having moved from “Like” to “Love” . . . a consistent, loyal, trusting bond among leaders and their teams.
Be consistent when it involves matters of accountability and introducing changes. No one appreciates the feeling of having someone they trust make a key decision or move without knowing about it.
These circumstances become more manageable once a leader has earned Buy In from their team. They will understand intuitively when decisions are made in their best interest, even if they were not included in advanced discussion.
Just don’t take it for granted. Be tenacious about organizing and facilitating team input whenever possible. Remember, the healthiest relationships are built on a foundation of trust. You don’t want to encourage behavior or habits that threaten to crack that foundation.
Buy In Becomes Believing
Having the right talent in place will make your pursuit of Buy In much more successful.
When selecting talent, recognize that performance is an innate quality that begins in the heart, not the mind. Trust your instinct, listen for emotional resonance that an applicant has approached their craft with the proper intent.
If you are the new talent, approach Buy In one bite at a time. Identify those you can most influence, and that have the most influence on others. Listen for their input, actively engage them in a decision-making process to begin establishment of a Climate of Collaboration.
Expand their Circle of self-awareness, with the intent of promoting joint accountability among the team. Offer guidance and direction during this initial process to ensure proper intent and professional maturity.
Finally, whether you are working with new or existing talent, realize that you are in a committed relationship. Trust and loyalty are both strengthened through a Cadence of Consistency. Your team will move from simply liking what they do, to loving being involved in the journey.
When Buy In becomes Believing, anything is possible.
Thank You for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!