How to Get Buy-in Through Socialising Your Performance Measures

October 19, 2010 by Stacey Barr

Our typical approaches to get people to take ownership of performance measures or KPIs don’t work very well, do they?

The solution is to completely reframe what it means to “buy in”: instead of trying to ‘get’ people to buy in, we need to instead ‘let’ people buy in. That means taking a very different approach to how we normally work together in business.

an example of a measure gallery

Invitations, not agendas or meeting requests.

In our haste and eagerness to get people involved in measuring performance, it’s easy to fall straight into typical organisational or bureaucratic protocol and schedule a meeting. But protocol makes people feel a sense of obligation or expectation to attend, even if they don’t want to or don’t have the time.

Obligation and expectation get in the way of buy-in happening, because they are a ‘push’ approach to measurement. True buy-in can only happen when people feel pulled or compelled toward measurement. It’s okay if not everyone wants to be involved, and it’s absolutely okay to wait until they decide they want to be involved.

TIP: When you socialise your performance measures, it’s better that people take part because they chose to, and that they give the time they can afford to give.

Dialogue, not presentations.

Death by PowerPoint is no joke. When you give a presentation to suggest a suite of performance measures to people, what you’re killing is their engagement, and any chance that people will feel a personal sense of ownership of those measures.

Dialogue is a different tack, and it means that people aren’t expected to passively accept a set of measures but rather talk about what performance measurement really means, which performance results are really important to measure, and which measures are useful or not.

TIP: When you socialise your performance measures, give tonnes of time and space for natural and unforced dialogue to happen.

Involvement, not consultation.

Ask for honest and constructive feedback about existing performance measures, and really mean it. Normally an email might get sent around to stakeholders asking them to provide some feedback about an attached measures report. Don’t bother. That won’t generate any kind of buy-in at all. It will smack of a cursory attempt to consult (but ultimately ignore) people’s input.

Instead, get people physically involved where they can ask questions and talk about the measures with each other. Better still, shelve your existing measures for a while, and let people come together to design the measures they believe are best, and feel excited about.

TIP: When you socialise your performance measures, make it clear that nothing is set in concrete and everyone’s ideas are worth exploring.

Standing, not sitting.

This might seem like a strange idea: to encourage standing when you discuss performance measures as opposed to sitting down. Again it’s about breaking off another chunk of that bureaucratic casing that stifles buy-in.

Hang your existing measures (and the goals or strategy or objectives they monitor) on walls in a meeting room and invite people to come along, whenever they like and for as little or as long as they like, to discuss the measures and share their ideas and feedback. If you remove the chairs from the meeting room, you’ll find people will move more freely and that means they’ll think more freely and discuss more freely.

TIP: When you socialise your performance measures, do it in an open space for people to mill around and come and go as it suits them.
So basically, socialising your performance measures means using a social process that acknowledges that people are people and that buy-in is not something you can get, it’s something you have to let happen by removing the typical obstacles.

TAKE ACTION:
Who would you like to engage in performance measurement in your organisation? Why not arrange a casual ‘gallery’ style event around your performance measures, and invite them to come in and share their feedback for making those measures more meaningful?

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  1. James Sheehan says:

    An excellent article Stacey and includes a lot of what I try to do on a regular basis. One trick I have learnt, as a result of doing a facilitation course, is to use the techniques learnt as a manipulation tool, rather than a facilitation tool. For example, you need to get buy in then start the ball rolling by mentioning the area that you are looking at and, using your facilitation skills, keep the discussion going. Pretty soon, no one will remember who brought up the subject but they will all have had an input into what you are trying to do and, as they have had that input, they are more likely to “buy in”, especially as most will actually think that the idea was there’s alone!! As to standing, I regularly hold events whereby various questions are displayed on posters around the room and attendees are invited to add their answers/thoughts on post-it notes to the poster. Together we can then rate them as Must, should, could or Now, medium term, long term etc. It’s a technique that works incredibly well and again gets the “buy in” because people have contributed. Keep up the great work Stacey and I look forward to all your future articles.

  2. Hi Stacey

    We always here talk of getting ‘buy-in’ when implementing performance measures but rarely do we here talk of ‘how’. It is so true that performance measurement is about engagement and not obligatory. One of the positives of engaging employees in designing performance measures is that, it actually motivates them leading them to go one step further. There is sense of ownership of the goals and targets involved. The opposite is also true, by coercing employees to get a buy-in, team morale is reduced. They will think that their ‘contribution’ is not valued much, and once an employee has such mentality, they are not concerned at all with the outcome of their actions.

    To get a buy-in from their peers, leaders should also remind subordinates that performance measurement is not always about punishing those who fail to meet their targets but rather, an opportunity to identify areas of improvement within the business and drive growth.Sometimes departmental managers might choose to monitor meaningless and easy to attain measures just to avoid the wrath of senior managers.

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