Do You Know How to Get Buy-In From Your Stakeholders?

Do You Know How to Get Buy-In From Your Stakeholders?

In my previous blog, I talked about stakeholders – knowing who they are and what they want.

This week, we’ll discuss the four conversations to have to enroll a stakeholder:

  • Relationship
  • Vision
  • Opportunity
  • Action

Relationship

Being related to some degree, even if it is at the introductory stage, is necessary for the enrollment to happen. People need to know who you are, and you them, in some way before proceeding to discuss opportunities and request actions.

An example of how that often doesn’t happen is when you’re walking down the street and someone approaches you with a petition. What that complete stranger is actually doing is asking you to take an action to support them, but between you there is norelationship, context or trust. These are necessary ingredients that would compel you to take the time to act.

If they had instead initiated a short conversation, introducing themselves and their view of the future before asking for an action, there would have been the context set that would enable further conversation.

Case study: I learned first hand how important establishing relatedness is. I had just begun my career consulting on leadership, and I let my enthusiasm get the best of me when I met in the hall the CEO of the company I was working with. Eager to take advantage of the short time we had together. I immediately passed an article to him, saying only, “Here’s a great article you should read.” I hadn’t introduced myself or held a conversation with him beforehand – and he looked at me like I was crazy. We had nothing established and had only seen each other in passing. Why would he read an article I suggested? There was no relationship established.

Sharing your vision of the future

The second conversation to have is to share a vision of the future that others may also care about.

They have to see something in your view of the future that calls to them.

For example: After introducing myself to the CEO, I might have said, “I see a future where all of the employees in this company are communicating effectively.”

Opportunity

The third conversation to have – still not yet the request for action – is opportunity.

Nobody will support you unless they see an opportunity – something they could concretely do to realize the vision. They also need to engage in thinking and talking about opportunities that they see could move them closer towards that vision.

For example, I could have said, “We are providing a training to develop people step-by-step to improve their speaking abilities.” Have you tried other ways to improve people’s communications?

Action

The fourth conversation is the request. It’s the conversation for action.

When making a request, make sure you have been specific about the action you are asking for and the timeframe you are asking for.

For example, a good request would be worded, “Would you like to come to a training on Thursday at 1PM  to learn more about our tools and processes to develop better communications?”

A vague request would be, “Would you be willing to support this in the future?”

These four conversations are vital to enrolling people in the results you are working towards. Once established, you will need to continue the relationship and deepen the trust. The bigger the results you are working towards, the more people have to trust you.

I found in my research on effective influence (achieving results with others over whom you have no direct authority), which I conducted while at The Forum Corporation, that trust is essential. There are three key things that build trust:

  1. Competence: People need to believe in your competence in the area you are proposing. You need to be enthusiastic and committed personally before attempting to enroll others. 
  2. Cooperation and collaboration. You have to be open to hearing other people’s ideas and adjusting your plans to include them.
  3. Humility. You must be humble – able to admit your uncertainties and mistakes. If you’re willing to be questioning, even of your own knowledge, you will increase the trust of others.

To enroll someone, you have to hold these four conversations to establish relatedness, share a vision, describe an opportunity for action – and then ask for specific actions. 

Reflection Questions

Do you remember the last time someone successfully enrolled you?

  • What did they do?
  • Were they committed themselves?
  • Did they share a vision of the future that was compelling to you?

Have you enrolled your stakeholders?

  • Have you established a degree of relatedness?
  • Have you shared your vision of the future in a way that includes outcomes they care about?
  • Have you described an opportunity they could take part in that would move towards this vision?
  • Have you made a specific request of them for an action within a timeframe?

Best of luck to you as you enroll others in your vision and the results you want to accomplish.

As always, let me know how this goes.

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