I have sat through my share of classes on emotional intelligence, the power of gaining buy-in etc. In every class, the speaker has ninja-like skills in the art of negotiation and getting stakeholders to buy-in, advocate and support your initiatives. It all sounds reasonable and even exciting. That is, until you leave the test kitchen that is the classroom and return to your place of work.
In theory and often times in practice you can successfully employ methods to facilitate your efforts of gaining buy-in from your stakeholders. However, what happens when your co-workers and/or colleagues are just not that into you or your ideas? The answer is nothing. Sometimes people just don’t like you. By virtue of them not liking you they are completely unwilling to hear or rally behind your ideas.
In my experience, you can bring all the major players to the table to reach a consensus and/or try to move an initiative forward with the best of intentions and practices; but alas there is always someone that takes great pride in opposing you and your initiative goes nowhere. What do you do? Do you pine away for a miracle to happen by way of a change of heart or do you accept that this person will never rally around you?
The answer here is yes. In business, you always have to be prepared for opponents or naysayers. These opponents are stakeholders that just have it in for you. They will never like you or your ideas. As a matter of fact, it isn’t just you that they loathe; it is any new idea. You can read a gazillion books on stakeholders and the art of team dynamics, but none of that will get those opponents/naysayers on your side. For that reason, you must always be ready to refocus your energy on the ones that will back you up inevitably. You will have to make an executive call and build a coalition to rally around you and move your initiatives forward.
By building a coalition, you are not shutting all of your stakeholders out and throwing up your hands. Instead, you are making sure things keep moving forward by getting a subsection of the stakeholders to rally around your efforts. The key to a successful coalition is credibility. Each player in your coalition must view you as having credibility. There may be other things that your stakeholders require before putting their support behind you; but credibility is of the utmost importance. Your stakeholders need to know that you know what you’re doing and that you are capable of doing what you say you will.
Here are three tips on building credibility with your coalition:
1) Minimize the perceived risk involved with your initiative. By doing this you anticipate any concerns your coalition may have and create answers that placate those concerns by giving a realistic description of the risks and opportunities involved with proceeding with your initiative.
2) Know your stuff. Develop your message. That is know what you’re talking about. Be ready to provide statistics and any other data to support your initiative.
3) Set goals and hold your coalition accountable for meeting deadlines.There needs to be a focus for your coalition. This is why you set strategic goals and milestones to keep the focus. Lack of focus means the coalition and you get sidetracked and nothing gets accomplished.
In business, there are very few instances where you win everyone over with your savvy ideas and initiatives. Professionals must always be prepared to explain,bargain, defend and advocate for their ideas. Don’t take it personal that they don’t like your ideas; instead be smart enough to identify your allies and neutral stakeholders. Get them on your side and see your initiatives thrive.