Earning Staff Buy-In on Workflow Projects

-Rachel Aubie

About to take on a project or implement change in your organization? Will it change people’s jobs a lot? Even a little bit?

Changes to workflow or job tasks can be stressful for many employees and a lack of change management can ruin any attempt to improve efficiency, job enjoyment or both. Follow these key strategies to ensure team buy-in for your workflow project:

1. Find Your Champions

Every successful project needs cheerleaders, not just decision makers. Enthusiasm coming from only the top-level does not instill the confidence required for change management to be successful. Acceptance of any project depends on change management, and strategically selected Champions are the first key to both gauging success throughout a project and managing the message around that change.

Champions are not just the loudest voices in your organization, they are employees and stakeholders that understand the project goals, will follow the communication plan and will stay positive.

2. Make a (Communication) Plan

Stay ahead of misinformation and get everyone on the same page with a solid communication plan. This includes sharing clear project goals and the steps involved to achieve those goals. It’s critical to ensure that every employee is considered in the plan, nothing looses buy-in faster than staff feeling overlooked. Ensure everyone understands their role in the project and when they may be needed so that they don’t feel “piled on” when they are asked to contribute.

The plan should include relevant, well-timed updates to maintain buy-in and enthusiasm, but not distract your teams from their everyday jobs.

3. Ask for Feedback

Your Champions are going to be a great source of feedback. Not only will they get the right messages out, they will be a pathway for reactions from within staff teams and departments. Embracing this feedback and adjusting your communication plan (or the project roll-out itself) will show your employees that the projects is a benefit to all, not just another ‘great idea’ being pushed down from above. Gather constructive feedback and give it meaningful consideration to maintain buy-in and confidence from your team.

Nothing looses buy-in faster than a group of workers feeling overlooked.

4. Know the Users’ Jobs/Roles

Workflow changes are going to change people’s jobs, but to be effective change (introduce efficiency, improve client experience, etc.) it must come from a place of understanding. If employees don’t think project leaders understand their current roles within the organization, it will be difficult to get buy-in on potential changes. Similar to gathering feedback throughout the project, ensure the project includes a clear understanding of the starting point, not just the vision for the finish line.

5. Don’t Ignore the Negative

As much as you need your Champions to stay positive to help earn buy-in, you cannot write off negative reactions – they are natural! There will always be some employees that cannot be convinced change is good. While it’s important to maintain a positive outlook and communication strategy, it’s also important to keep any recurring negative attitudes in mind and monitored. Is it a specific team, or groups throughout the organization? Is it related to training deficits, or a certain department feeling ignored? If management is blocking out the negative, someone will always be excluded and that is buy-in that can never be earned.

New workflow projects and implementations can be a great opportunity to bring positive change to an organization. With the right approach, staff can feel confident the implementation will not only improve how they work but what they’re able to accomplish as well.

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Less time recording data means more time for your front-line staff to do what they do best – more and better service delivery. 

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