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Change Management: How to Solicit Buy-In from Company Leaders

Change management is one of the most difficult endeavors to undertake at any organization because human nature resists change. For that reason, when Human Resources needs to institute or oversee some kind of change, HR leaders will want to do everything they can to facilitate the organization’s ability to accept and integrate the changes.

That starts at the top: unless HR leaders get buy-in from the C-suite, key stakeholders, and influencers among those most affected by the changes, they will struggle to manage the implementation of the new policies, protocols, or procedures. But how do you do that?

Make sure the change aligns with business objectives.
Try to frame any proposed change in terms of how it aligns with and facilitates the achievement of business goals and, even better, profitability. If the anticipated impact of the change can be quantified with the normal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used by the organization, so much the better.

Appeal to both reason and emotion.
If leaders can’t articulate why a change is needed, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. A logical, defensible reason to accept the change can make it easier for people to support. But logic alone is not enough:  “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking, than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings,” writes John Kotter in his book, The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations. “Behavior change happens in highly successful situations, mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.”

Ask questions.
Don’t dictate change. People are more likely to get on board if they feel that they are part of the change process and have input into its shape. That means treating change as though it’s a conversation. Ask questions, and genuinely listen to the answers. Sometimes resistance is a “qualified no” rather than an outright rejection and can be overcome through adjustments to the change process.

Know whom not to trust.
Some people within the organization will oppose the change no matter what. Their reasoning may range from legitimate arguments to personal resentment of the change to just being stridently anti-change. Regardless of the reason, they will work to undermine any effort to implement change, often through sabotage and whisper campaigns from behind the curtain. Try to minimize these individuals involvement.

Organizational change is always challenging; but with a smart, tactical approach that includes getting buy-in from leaders, HR can make the change process much easier on themselves and everyone.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.

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