It’s a problem we see all too often: someone has an amazing idea, like a program designed to improve community health while reducing overall costs or a plan to retain top talent amidst rising turnover rates, but other stakeholders just aren’t quite on board. Buy-in can be especially difficult for those new to leadership — 4 out of 5 new leaders don’t feel prepared to get buy-in for their vision. Coming up with an amazing idea to instigate change is only part of the process.
With busy schedules and a myriad of different (sometimes even conflicting) organizational initiatives, it can be hard to figure out how to execute your change efforts. We understand just how important it is to get leadership buy-in, so we’re sharing our best tips on how to advocate for change.
Create a Compelling Vision for Change
It may be cliche, but it’s true — the only guaranteed constant is change. And when the U.S. health industry experiences a 9.7% annual rate of growth, the pace of change is always accelerating. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of initiatives, programs, committees, and more. In order for a vision to stand out amidst all the other proposals, it needs to address the organization’s key pain points and offer an effective solution to overcome these challenges.
When presenting an idea for change, try putting yourself in the shoes of executive leadership team members. Consider what the organization and its people need and want most in the current moment, and try to frame your ideas in a way that links them to the company’s stated goals. For instance, if it’s an idea to enhance physician leadership, be sure to present the idea in relation to organizational pain points. If you are advocating for investment in physician leadership development, focus on how creating strong physician leaders lowers readmission rates. If you are seeking an investment in a new population health initiative, tie its outcome to how it can positively impact physician engagement.
All ideas and plans should be fully thought-out and considered from multiple angles before being brought to leadership, so the strongest vision possible is presented. Consider what’s needed in order for the vision to become reality, both from a financial and human capital perspective. This helps create a shared understanding of how implementation will be handled for the organization, alleviating concerns from other stakeholders early on. Be sure to emphasize what makes this idea more effective than others and exactly why and how it will be successful where others in the past have failed.
Build a Strong Cross-Departmental Network
Failing to seek guidance and support from peers and coworkers before presenting an idea to leadership is a receipt for disaster. Getting feedback and support from others helps create a more complete picture of the problem. For example, an idea for physician leadership development could leave nurse leadership feeling overlooked. Speaking with others helps illuminate weak points within the idea to help create a more comprehensive vision. In this example, it may mean expanding the original physician leadership program to a clinician leadership development program or dyad leadership program.
This is why networking within the organization is crucial. Even if you have yet to form a noteworthy plan for change, having cross-functional relationships in place helps you:
- Gain a better understanding of the challenges facing different parts of the organization
- Build groundwork for support from key stakeholders
- Provide a network ready to help implement and achieve the vision
This vital feedback doesn’t just help shape the idea itself, it can help engage leadership. Demonstrating cross-departmental support shows leadership that the idea has been considered from multiple perspectives and has the confidence of multiple parties, which will make implementation easier.
Pitch to the Right Stakeholders
There is no point in bringing an amazing idea to someone who doesn’t have the power or authority to move that idea forward. Rather than inspiring change, bringing an idea to the wrong stakeholders can often just bring on more confusion and frustration. If a direct superior, such as a manager, isn’t the right stakeholder to bring an idea to, consider enlisting them as an ally in selling your idea to the right department or up the chain of command. Approach your manager as a collaborator and ask for help in crafting your suggestion in a way that will resonate with senior executives. Buy-in along the chain of command helps to better develop the pitch for leadership. Managers can lend important insights to help mold the vision to suit the pain points of the organization, strengthening the ultimate pitch.
When getting ready to present an idea, consider who has the decision rights. Does this idea need leadership buy-in from human resources? Operations? A direct superior?
Make Implementation Easy
In our work, we’ve found that one of the best ways to get an idea to move forward is by making implementation easy. When all it takes from leadership is a simple “yes,” they are much more likely to agree. For example, when pitching an idea, emphasize how budgets and people could easily be redeployed for implementation without placing undue stress on other projects or people. Highlight which allies are needed and volunteer to bring them in to make the entire project easy to implement.
Learning how to navigate your organization and gain leadership buy-in for valuable ideas is a key skill every leader needs. Our team is here to support leaders in putting their best foot forward when presenting their ideas to implement and effect change within their organization.
When it comes to advocating for enhanced leadership development efforts at your organization — we’re here to help! Our Client Relationship Managers help identify key stakeholders, budgets, and leadership gaps, helping bring your visionary ideas into reality. Get in touch with us and see how TLD Group can help you get leadership buy-in on your next great idea.