Without buy-in from senior leadership, some of the best initiatives are dissolved before they’ve even started. Challenges to your plan from management can be costly and cause interruptions. Important timelines are broken up and goals are missed. Russ Becker, president of The Forum, discusses the importance of successful internal marketing of your initiative, explaining how building understanding and motivation around your plan needs to include three important phases — align, equip and sustain.
During the ‘align’ phase of the internal marketing campaign, you are working to clarify the purpose of the initiative. This is the time to explain to senior management the importance of the programme, and why their support is imperative to the initiative’s success. When top leadership is behind your goal, the programme will be taken more seriously throughout the entire company. Announcements about the initiative that come directly from seniors, such as a news alert or organisation-wide email, will motivate everyone involved and encourage the sought-after results.
It’s during the equip phase that the team is supplied with the critical skills, specific information and tools that are necessary to reach the goals of the initiative. This phase is also necessary to continue to build support and buy-in from senior leadership. Invitations to attend training sessions, with senior management participation, will help build momentum. Create a buzz around the programme by constantly communicating the goals and projected achievements. Try persuasive tactics such as producing video interviews with employees, setting benchmarks, and planning activities to promote team engagement.
The sustain phase is the last, yet critical step of encouraging buy-in to your initiative. During this phase, you are providing evidence, facts and figures to senior leadership to prove the worthiness of your initiative. The key decision makers need to see why your programme is a solid investment and that the initial expenditure will have a sustainable and profitable future. Completing the first two phases of “align and equip” will ensure you have an easier time demonstrating to leadership why their dedication — and budget commitment — will pay off.
“Securing senior leadership buy-in throughout every phase of the process is critical to ensure that the programme is taken seriously and is adopted throughout the business,” says Becker. By implementing the three-phases of planning, a proposed initiative is likely to not only receive upper management buy-in but also remain a solid feature of the organisation for years to come.
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