How to get your employees to buy into their jobs
Employees with buy-in benefit themselves and the entire organization
The best-selling business classic, “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In,” delivered the message that successful negotiations are completed by focusing on mutual interests, not on opposing positions. That same principle of mutuality applies to how employees perceive themselves within an overall business structure and how their job, no matter what hierarchical level or job title, is a vital and respected part of the company’s operation. It’s not about the employee’s job title, seniority or expertise; it’s about how everyone in the company shares a mutual interest in collaborating for the benefit of all.
To percolate that understanding throughout an organization, it’s essential to provide structured training that integrates all departments and demonstrates to the entire organization how truly interdependent they all are. Once that belief is absorbed into the company mindset from top to bottom, employees become more engaged with their work, acknowledge their responsibility, and appreciate the value they provide to the company. In a word, employees now have buy-in.
Starting a buy-in training program
The best place to start building buy-in is with structured training at the supervisor or middle management level. Those are the people who interact with both the organization’s C-suite and rank and file, and they are best positioned to communicate up and down the ranks how the various operations within the company affect all the others.
Across the board, employees need to understand the organization-wide structure and how each person contributes to the larger company. The need a basic understanding of: Where does the company fit into the big picture? Why are we in this business and industry? How did we get to where we are today? How can we and our people continue to grow? What can we do better as a business and as responsible members of society? How can we, the company, contribute to your, the employee’s, personal advancement?
Why you need employee buy-in
Employees need to understand how your company works, both in the office and in the field, so they can become fully engaged with their jobs and committed to your goals. Each department in the company should develop a training module that explains what the department does and how it does it, how it works with other departments, how its work contributes to the company’s bottom line, and how it relies on everyone else in the company to work together toward a common purpose.
For example, promptly sending invoices to customers or clients obviously affects the company’s cash flow. So Joe Employee needs to understand that punctually entering his hours worked affects whether the accounts receivable department can bill the company’s customers and receive timely payment to have available to buy needed parts or services — perhaps for Joe’s urgent project.
The buy-in-building process
The formal training program begins with department heads working together to identify everything that needs to be managed in the organization, both in the corporate setting and in the field, then developing training materials for each module. The training is presented first to the supervisor/middle management team—and perhaps select project managers, specialists and employees—from each department. When the supervisors have been trained, they then work individually with line employees.
Employees proceed through the training at their own speed. Once they have mastered the content for one module, they should move on to the next. As employees begin to apply the principles in their daily work, supervisors should continue to mentor them informally. By working side by side with employees, managers become leaders who model buy-in and inspire their workers to do the same. This results in employees who feel confident and secure in taking the initiative to better the business.
When you show that you care to invest in making your employees better leaders and better people, you engender loyalty and integrity, which makes them even more valuable as proud representatives of your company and your industry.
Israel Sanchez is the vice president of operations for CD Specialty Contractors, a commercial and industrial insulation and scaffolding contractor. He manages more than 200 full-time employees and has helped create online and hand-on leadership trainings, implemented innovative safety programs and established benefits packages for all employees.