If the staff doesn’t trust the leader…then the leader will eventually have no one to lead!
Leaders CANNOT underestimate how necessary staff buy in is. AND…the funny thing about staff buy in is that it does not truly come about through intimidation, manipulation OR even the promise of more money. Here are five steps that I believe will really help a staff member buy into a leader.
#1 – Clarify The Win
Scripture says in I Corinthians 14:8 that if the trumpet does not sound a clear call then the people will not be ready for battle…and I know from personal experience that at times when certain staff members had a problem with me that it wasn’t because they didn’t believe in the direction we were going…but rather because they simply did not understand what in the heck I was saying…AND/OR what their particular part was.
One of the things I have finally came to realize is that staff members cannot be held accountable for unspoken/unrealistic expectations. All too often leaders will get angry at their staff because they were not able to read the leaders mind…which is insane. If a leader REALLY is a leader then he/she will take an extra five or ten minutes, answer questions and do whatever it takes to fully explain themselves so that everyone is on the same page.
#2 – Keep It Simple
One of the dumbest things I’ve done as a leader over the past 10 years is allow my drive and passion to overshadow the reality of the world that we live in. Let me explain…
I would be in a leadership meeting with a group of people and would be casting vision as to what I really felt the Lord had placed on my heart…and the excitement in the room would hit an all time high! People would be sharing ideas, embracing responsibility, establishing deadlines and getting pumped up about the role they would play in this particular project. The meeting would end and we would all go on our way…
THEN…the next week I would walk into the room and not even bring up the idea that we had been so excited about the previous week…instead I would share a new insight/project I felt like we should take on…and would get frustrated because the energy level of the previous week wasn’t there. In fact, no one would seem excited about it. Ideas as to how it could happen were not shared…to be honest…as soon as I would begin to do this it would not energize the room but rather suck the energy right out of the place.
For a while I thought MAYBE it was a spiritual immaturity issue on THEIR part; after all, if they loved Jesus as much as I did then they would be excited, right? WRONG!
It was an issue of spiritual maturity…but on my part and not theirs!
If a leader wants to obtain buy in from his/her staff they have to understand the following things from the above scenerio…
A. The initial idea the first week brought clarity…the secondary the next week brought confusion because everyone in the room was thinking, “What should we be focused on? The idea that came up last week…or the one he seems to be excited about this week?”
B. The initial idea was being worked on/developed…and so in my mind it was complete and I was ready to move on, not understanding that the people I lead with had just really gotten started working on the initial idea…and so a new idea didn’t bring excitement but rather a feeling of being overwhelmed because their initial thoughts were, “I want to do this AND also what we talked about last week…but how do I do both of them well without working 80 hour a week? What am I supposed to focus on, the thing we are talking about today or the thing we talked about last week?”
C. Staff members are real people who have real lives and they want their time to be valued by their leader. This does not mean that there aren’t times that “the extra mile” attitude doesn’t kick in…BUT…for a leader to think that the only thing a staff member is on this planet for is to serve his agenda/needs is arrogant and will eventually lead to everyone “abandoning ship” around him. It’s not that staff do not get fired up by great ideas/vision…they usually LOVE it; however, when “the vision” means they have to give up being a great spouse and become a stranger to their kids then it is time to do some serious evaluation as to whether “the vision” is actually vision or an ego trip!
D. When a project is assigned the people working on the project should have THE MOST input into when the deadline is going to be; after all, they are the ones who will be doing the work.