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Gini Dietrich

Eight Steps for Getting Buy-In and Managing Change

By: Gini Dietrich | December 13, 2010 | 
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It’s an interesting time at Arment Dietrich right now. We have the AD team and we have the Project Jack Bauer team and some of us are straddling both. To say I’m doing a great job at leading both teams is being overly nice. And because I’m not doing a great job, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about and talking about with individuals on both teams. I’ve come to the conclusion that not only am I not leading both teams effectively, I’m not managing the change of adding a new business effectively.

When most people think about getting buy-in for their ideas, they think about it from the perspective of going to their boss with a great idea and having it shot down. There are plenty of books and articles written about how to present your idea to either your boss or the executive team to get buy-in. I suggest you take some time to read them if you really believe you have an idea and want to get buy-in.

But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the change or the idea coming form the top and not getting buy-in. If you’re an employee, think about how frustrating it is when you have an idea that is shot down. If you’re a business leader, have you ever had to institute change that you really believe in, but no one else did? That’s the kind of emotion I want you to feel as you read this.

Now, sometimes my team hates it when I blog about them. I can imagine it’s equal to bloggers writing about their home lives. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it sucks. Like really sucks. But the good news is, today I’m not talking about individuals on my team or my team as a whole. I’m talking about me. I’m talking about how I can lead two teams effectively, how I can continue growing Arment Dietrich while we build Project Jack Bauer, and about my role in creating the vision, communicating the change, and being transparent in everything that we do. It’s my job to manage the change and that’s why I’m taking an introspective look.

Lots and lots and lots of business leaders (and the books and articles I keep reading) tell me that change is good and, that if there is push-back, I’m doing something right. But let me tell you something. Just like when you have a great idea that is shot down, not having buy-in from your team is not fun. Even if it does mean the change is about to be made and buy-in is about to occur (which is what the experts say happen – first there is dissent and then there is buy-in).

This past weekend, I was doing some additional reading (remember I read, reflect, and then act … sometimes practicing on my team until I get it right) and I found Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. In the article, they cover eight steps for getting buy-in and managing change.

  1. Creating a sense of urgency
  2. Identifying a powerful guiding coalition
  3. Creating a vision
  4. Communication the vision
  5. Empowering others to act on the vision
  6. Planning for and creating short-term wins
  7. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
  8. Institutionalizing new approaches

It’s funny. I’ve mentioned here that I’m honest to a fault. I believe in open and transparent communication. I know I tell people on my team things they shouldn’t know. It’s a strength and a weakness. Because of that, I really believe I do numbers one, three, four, and five exceptionally well…on the Project Jack Bauer side, but not necessarily the Arment Dietrich side.

Uh…so I’m 50/50? And only for one profit center, not both? That’s not good (unless I’m a baseball player).

I don’t have the perfect answer yet, other than getting really good at all eight of those steps. So I’d like to open this up to you. If you’ve ever had an idea that was shot down, what did you do to go back at it? If you’re a business owner or leader who has had to manage change, how did you do it so people were happy and moving toward one goal? If you’re on my team and you don’t mind telling me what I’m doing wrong in this open forum, I invite it. Let’s hear it!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.