Picture yourself as a manager in an organization. Your department is set to undergo a large restructure which will not only change the individuals on your team, but also the scope of work and responsibility. Your Director mentioned the restructure a few months ago and today informed you of their strategy that they are now expecting you to implement. You hear the strategy and become frustrated because they failed to address key considerations that can and will interrupt the business. Had they approached you earlier about the plan you could have brought this feedback to light but now you feel that you are at the mercy of their strategy and have no power to make a change. You are now disengaged, frustrated, and are starting to think this is not the company for you.
Sound familiar? This scenario is a common occurrence in the workplace. Leaders fail to gain consensus from their team and bulldoze their new ideas without anyone else’s consideration leading to disengagement, increased stress, turnover, and decreased productivity. However, much of these consequences can be avoided if you simply focus on gaining consensus. Here is how to gain consensus.
- Identify a common goal. What is the shared goal of your team and organization? Find the common goal and use this as a starting point to gain consensus. For example, perhaps everyone wants a greater work/life balance so they are interested in finding solutions to reduce the time of key processes. Talk about the common goal to unite people and inspire action and enthusiasm towards the change.
- Anticipate the objections. Before you bring the idea or challenge to your team, think about their potential challenges and prepare a response to address them. What will they like or dislike about the change? How will it impact their role? These are the questions they will want to know immediately and when you do the upfront work to answer them people will feel that their needs have been considered and are more willing to support the change.
- Identify the benefits. Similar to above, identify the benefits. What are the wins they will experience as a result of the change? Think about what is important to them and how the change can solve their challenges. Identify at least three benefits that they will experience as a result of the change and share this with them as you start to work to build consensus. The benefits will help build excitement toward the change and motivate people to buy-in to the change.
- Ask for solution-oriented feedback. Share the change that is needed or the problem that needs to be solved. Then ask for feedback on the change but require that it be solution focused. Meaning, if you do not like it, help us solve it. This approach helps transform attitudes from critical to solution-focused which can increase your ability to gain consensus and find solutions faster.
- Be willing to compromise. To gain agreement, you need to be flexible. If you practice a “my way or the highway” approach, individuals will be less likely to agree and may even resist supporting your ideas in the future. Use the feedback gathered to find a solution that works best for all.