Getting senior management to buy in is probably one of the most difficult things one can hope to do. Yet, in many cases, it is just what an organization needs—it is, at times, best for business. But, how do you do it? You will try time and time again to get it right but you will probably fail more times than you should. So, the following article seeks to aide you in convincing the top management on new initiatives and getting them to buy in.
The Need for Change
The first thing you want to do is ensure that the senior management sees that change is needed. The only way changes are going to be made is if the top management sees the need for it. If they recognize that something is wrong, something else will be done to remedy it. The top management will hardly ever heed anyone’s advice but its own. So, if you see need for change in a particular area, come up with a way to present said problems and their solutions to the top management.
The Benefits of Change
Before presenting the full scale of your plan, ensure the senior guys understand the full benefit of these changes you are about to present them with. You should then come with full details of all your plans from start to finish, including the timetables for implementing said plans, the costs, etc. However, you should not give all the details away unless the brass brings it up. You don’t want them to dismiss all your plans outright, so approach with care but also decisively.
Your implementation process should contain a number of options. If the brass actually listens to you and accepts your ideas, they will definitely ask you to give various options for implementation. A single option for a single idea may not be the best thing for you because that option may face certain restrictions. You should have at least three options available for implementing the change. You don’t want to have only one option because if you do, you will spend the rest of your time defending that plan. Having two options is not too bad, but it is not that big a step-up from one. Having three is almost perfect. It will create a kind of discussion rather than a siege against you.
When you are doing the presentation, prepare yourself for dialogue and discussions among the senior management people. You should be prepared to listen and allow for new solutions to be brought up. The senior level guys will have a ton of questions for you and they will not stop until they have fully understood your points and plans. You have to be prepared for these questions and you have to be prepared to take criticism. You also have to be prepared to have your ideas (even all of them) shot down in favour of their very own. When trying to explain a scenario, you could role-play with a colleague so as to fully illustrate your point. Listen carefully to everything they say, be it good or bad.
Case in Point
Do thorough research so that you can identify other organizations where plans and solutions like the ones you have come up with have been implemented successfully. You can also do research and find solutions that didn’t work out and explain them to the brass. When you begin the presentation, though, you should never bring this topic up. As a matter of fact, you probably shouldn’t bring this point up unless it has been asked of you. Never bring it up before the top management has agreed with you that change is necessary. Still, this bit of research is good to do because the question will most likely come up.
Take the Risk
Taking a risk is not the same as gambling. If you are requesting large-scale change, you should know that you are taking a huge risk. But, when you are making the change, ensure that the organization can handle it (and that you and your team can meet carry it out). This is risk-taking rather than gambling and you will need it.
Nothing more needs to be said about this. Following through with the implementation process will, however, build trust between you and the top management. Ensure your promises (the ones you make during the presentations) can be met (by you and your team). Otherwise, you are digging your own grave.