Goal Setting Is All About Creating Buy-in

Managing Change Through Disruptive Thinking: Part 4 of 4

If you’re thinking about setting a new goal for your organization, it could go one of two ways: 1) you create the goal, and then you let your employees know, which may lead to letdown when the response is less enthusiastic than you expected or 2) you create the goal with the help of your employees, and then they work hard to accomplish that goal. It’s not hard to notice the ideal approach is described in the second scenario. Employee involvement is an important consideration when you’re getting ready to set organizational, team or individual goals. The critical factor is buy-in. This Ask Fuel First question is focused on that buy-in: How can I get the staff at my practice to buy into our new goals?

Once you set goals for your practice, you’ll need to get buy-in from the team. Buy-in is when your employees accept and make an effort to implement your goal. Without it, you will have an extremely difficult time achieving your goals. Getting buy-in isn’t always an easy task, so we’re going to give you some tips to help you accomplish your goals through employee buy-in.

Diffusion of Innovative Ideas

Before we talk about how to get employee buy-in, it’s important to note that some employees simply might not get involved until everyone else in the organization does. Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory (Rogers, 2003) focuses on the stages of acceptance that people go through when faced with innovation. Although Rogers focuses on innovation in technology, this theory is also true for employees faced with the type of change that comes from disruptive thinking.

When faced with change, there are some who will be excited about the prospect of change and will start the process. These are the risk-takers who probably heard about the idea from those who initiated the change. Those people will share the information with others who will accept the change based on feedback. Then more people will hear about the change and, after spending time processing the information, will get on board. And finally, there’s a small group of people who will be against the change until they must adapt. This adaptation is probably based on a need. For example, when email became mainstream, these were the people who waited to create an email account until the last possible moment—and probably only because an email address was required for something else.

Change in Practice

Knowing how people adapt to change will help you target the right employees in your organization to help initiate the change, or in this case, the goal that you want to set. Seek out those in your organization who are excited about new opportunities, as they will influence others. Make an announcement to the entire staff, so everyone is informed of the new goal. More people will adapt to the change and try to accomplish the goal by hearing feedback from those who jumped on board early in the process. Eventually, those who were resistant to change will adapt because it’s necessary for some other aspect of their job.

The Process of Sharing Your Goals

Here are some tips to remember when you’re formulating a plan for creating employee buy-in to a new goal:

  1. Have a clear vision: Before anyone buys into your proposed goal, you need to have a clear vision of where you want to go with it. That means doing a thorough SWOT analysis, connecting/matching points in the sections and then writing the goal with an action/result focus.
  2. Share the journey with others: You should have a clear idea of your goal, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Find the people in your practice who are usually excited about change and ask them to participate in brainstorming ideas for a new goal.
  3. Leverage feedback: Now that you have written a goal, get feedback from others. This is when you should bring in other people who are generally open to change into the process. Discuss the new goal with the team and make adjustments as necessary.
  4. Announce the goal: By now, your goal should be solid, and you’ve already gotten buy-in from some employees. It’s time to announce the goal to the rest of the practice. This should be a more formal rollout where you can discuss all the elements of the goal. Remember, there are going to be some who worry about change and will resist. They need you to reassure them that this goal will not only benefit the practice but, more importantly, it won’t have a negative impact on them or their role.
  5. Address concerns: After you make the announcement, there will be some employees who have questions and concerns. Listen to them. Once they’ve had a chance to share their concerns, you should address each point. When employees know that you’ve really listened to them and you talk them through the purpose and impact the goal will have on the practice and them as employees, they will most likely buy into the idea of the goal, whether they personally agree or not.
  6. Lead by example: Once you’ve begun to implement the goal, you need to show others that you have also bought into the idea. That means taking the steps that you’ve outlined to accomplish the goal. Once others see you doing this, they are more likely to embrace the idea themselves.  
  7. Don’t get attached: After you’ve implemented the goal, you need to know when to stop. Either you’ll accomplish your goal because you’ve reached your pre-determined markers or the goal didn’t get accomplished due to a problem. Just because you didn’t reach your goal doesn’t always mean you weren’t successful. It might mean that you need to learn from your mistake and come up with different goals using the lessons you’ve learned. It could also mean that circumstances were out of your control, such as running a marketing campaign during the Superbowl (let’s face it—everyone is glued to their televisions on Superbowl Sunday, and an ad on hearing devices take second place) or the loss of several key employees meant you couldn’t answer as many phone calls to book as many appointments as you would have liked. As Kenny Rogers in “The Gambler” once said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” In other words, don’t get attached to an unsuccessful goal—move on if things just aren’t working the way you expected.

Learning how to establish and follow through with setting goals is a skill like any other, but it needs practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at being able to see connections and focusing on goals that will help move your practice forward. And the better you’ll be at creating buy-in from your employees. Fuel Medical can guide you during any stage of this process.

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