Face it: Ideas are, as the cliché goes, a dime a dozen. Great ideas? Ok, maybe they’re a buck apiece. What really matters is execution. And when it comes to the delicate art of turning flashy brainstorms into business-nourishing rainmaking, Chris McChesney is one of the top go-to guys.
In an exclusive post for Chief Executive, McChesney, author of the bestselling book Four Disciplines of Execution, tackles one of the most tenacious obstacles to getting traction for your bold vision: buy-in from your front-line managers.
“It’s natural to think, ‘How can I persuade them we need to do this?’” writes McChesney. “In the more than 20 years I’ve worked with chief executives on strategy execution, I’ve found it’s natural to think this way. Yet, it’s just not productive. The adage ‘those convinced against their will agree still’ aptly describes these situations.”
What to do? Here is a five-step process that gets them together to hear you out, leaves ample room for the inevitable pushback that comes with change, and then pulls them through a series of action steps that not only improve on your ideas but also give them a feeling of ownership. They are:
- Communicate with transparency. Lay out the objectives with precise measurements for a win, a finish line, and a deadline.
- Put them in small groups—in person—and ask them to create clarifying questions for you. “It’s vital that, as you answer these questions, you do not get defensive or try to sell them. Be prepared to consider aspects of your objectives you had not thought of before.”
- Feedback. Now it’s time to listen, but not react—this is where you build trust but also get a real sense of what your “grand objectives” look like from the front line. Remember: “Your managers are advising you. You don’t need to argue with an advisor.”
- Incorporate. Take a break, reassess your plan in light of what you’ve learned and make some modifications. Then, pull everyone back together. Expecting happy people? Don’t. But you will have shown you’re listening.
- Involvement. This is where the magic starts. You will now ask each of the managers to answer this question: In addition to your team’s current work, what is the one objective your team could produce that would significantly impact our high-level objectives?
Caution: This is a tricky, make-or-break moment. McChesney offers detailed tips on how to turn it into a win. Read the full article >