Every initiative a business embarks on has an objective to improve its current state. The business goes through the exercise of compiling a list of data to validate the business needs and the return on investment. This addresses the management’s quest to justify the allocation of funding.
Once the funding is granted, the initiative goes through many phases. Each phase is exposed to both anticipated and unanticipated hurdles. These hurdles include resistance to change, conflicting preferences for solution design, change in market conditions, unexpected regulations, and many more. While the business might have limited influence on the external hurdles, it has an upper hand on internal challenges. Most of the internal challenges arise from dissimilar mindsets. As a result, the initiative is stalled and delayed, runs out of budget for critical pieces, and in the worst case, never reaches completion.
To ensure that there is alignment throughout the business, it is critical to develop the proper mindset to gain buy-in and support. There are 3 steps to win mindsets.
- Determine who the key players are
The key players for an initiative include the sponsor, project leader, and team members. They are directly involved with the initiative, so it is critical to get them on board quickly. They need to understand fully the objectives of the initiative. They need to work collaboratively. They also have the ambassador role to share information about the initiative. They ought to be able to converse honestly about the initiative.
In addition to this group of active players, there are the senior management team and the rest of the employees who are directly impacted. Despite the approval of funding for the initiative, it doesn’t necessarily imply that all members of the senior management team are fully supportive. When the support is not there, the initiative could be put on a back-burner as soon as a major hurdle surfaces. As the senior management team has veto power in decision-making, winning their mindsets cannot be overlooked. For employees who are directly impacted by the pending change, it is critical that they are not served with conflicting information about the goals. The cohesive force of this indirect group could be very powerful.
- Engage in dialogues
It is insufficient to broadcast about an initiative through an announcement. The one-way communication generates the perception of moving forward with no option. Some might welcome the pending change as it promises to remove some of their daily frustrations. Some might be stressed about their job security. Some might form alliances to resist change. Others might sit on the fence to see how things unfold.
The best way to engage and clear any misconceptions is to have dialogues about the initiative. This needs to take place at all levels. Managers and team leaders need to be kept up-to-date on progress and be prepared to address any concerns their subordinates might have. Business unit directors and VPs need to be briefed regularly on project status, issues and resolutions so that they are up-front with their teams. Establish a regular schedule for briefings to cascade information in a timely manner. Each conversation is an opportunity to win and align mindsets.
- Persevere to maintain direction
The initial excitement often diminishes over time. However, it doesn’t imply that the significance of the initiative is minimized. Frequent dialogues keeps the initiative and business goals top-of-mind. During challenging times of conflict negotiation and resolution, leaders must reinforce the guiding principles for the initiative. Remind key players and others the goals and targets. Revisit the basis for the difficult decisions.
Employees are quick to pick up wavering positions and decisions. They interpret these signals as indecisiveness, presenting an opportunity for them to build ammunition for resistance. The best approach is not to be distracted and respond with knee-jerk reactions. By persevering through hurdles that unfold along the way, the clear direction instills an image of what success looks like in people’s minds.
Winning mindsets is a priority because challenges are inevitable in running a business. By aligning mindsets, you build engagement throughout the business. You are able to develop a cohesive sense of direction, driving succinct decisions and actions.