Today’s video provides 11 tips with the animal magic of buy-in and stakeholder engagement.

(Video script – Animal magic of buy-in and stakeholder engagement)

Hi. I’m Kim Tasso.

I’ve spent many years helping people to achieve buy-in – that is, getting senior management and colleagues to accept and support their ideas. It’s the personal psychology piece of stakeholder engagement and management.

I’ve written many blogs on the topic over the years (see the links below). But today I thought I’d distil some of the tips and techniques using an array of animals – to help you remember the techniques.

So are you ready? Let’s get started

Bats (listening) – I am going to start with bats. While some people focus on the scary aspects of bats and their links to vampires let’s focus on bats’ extraordinary ability to listen. They use echo-location – using sonar to locate objects around them. The starting point of any buy-in effort is to listen carefully and actively to what people are saying. So that you start to understand them and develop empathy with their views.

Fly eyes (empathy and perspective) – These are my fly eyes. Flies and other insects have faceted eyes which means that they can see lots of different directions at once. That’s a key part of achieving buy in. If you ask questions and listen carefully to the responses (remember the bat) then you start to develop and understanding of other people’s perspective, Empathy is a critical part of forming rapport, relationships and trust. And you need that in place before you start trying to persuade people.

Ladybirds (face to face communication) – These little guys are attached – and they always move towards each other. Face-to-face communication is critical in forming relationships, empathy and trust. Yes, I know it’s particularly difficult during Covid-19 restrictions. You have to have good communication channels if you want to persuade and achieve buy in. And the research shows that people are 34 times more likely to accept a request for help if it is made face-to-face. So step away from the emails.

Bees (networking) –While we are on insects I’d like to mention bees. They have to be the ultimate networkers and collaborators. To gain buy in you need to extend your network both internally and externally. Internal communication is vitally important – to find influencers, supporters, sponsors and champions to help you fight your corner. Use your hive mind!

Elephants (emotion) – In one of my favourite models of change management (there’s a book by Chip and Dan Heath) they say that to gain commitment to change you need to engage both the rational rider and the emotional elephant (emotional baggage is the reason it’s an elephant bag) before providing the first small steps to change. So – think beyond the rationale for your project. Beyond the cost-benefit analysis and the return on investment projections. Think about how people might feel about it. What are their emotions? Their fears? Engage their emotional elephant and think about their motivations and emotional baggage when trying to secure their buy in.

Geese (alignment) – Geese fly in formation. They are really smart and rotate the leader in the front so no one gets tired. But the reason I choose geese is around alignment. You need to know what the business is trying to achieve and other people’s aims so that you can align your project or idea to their needs.

Wolves (consultation and collaboration) – Wolves are pack animals. Although there is an alpha male dominating, they are known for working for the good of the pack. When I was younger I was a cub scout pack leader. I was called Akela – from the Jungle book. But we would sit in that circle and hear the views of even the most junior cub before making decisions. So it is with buy in – you need to seek views, consult and ideally gain consensus.

Fox (politics) – Foxes are wily and clever. Some think they are a bit mischievous. Foxes are clever, agile and sly creatures. There’s a popular model of internal politics suggesting that there are foxes, rising stars, fallen stars and foot soldiers. Avoid getting caught in the cross-fire of old coalitions, alliances, triangulations and power plays. Conflict is an inevitable part of all relationships so learn how to manage difference.

Ray (under the radar) – Sometimes you need to fly under the radar and be camouflaged. Like a ray. There’s the interesting sleeper effect – where someone adopts your idea but believes it is theirs. That’s the ultimate skill in achieving buy in.

(Bertie) Dog, Cats and bears personalities – Of course we are all different – in terms of our age, background, gender, cognitive style and personality. We need to recognise the difference in others and adapt our behaviour to support good communication. Here’s Bertie – obviously he is a dog – you might like to see a short video I made on the cats, dogs and bears model of personality.

Llama trekking – A few years ago I went llama trekking. I was stunned to learn that llamas do not like to be touched. Even mummy llamas don’t touch their offspring. And the reason I have chosen a llama is this. Achieving buy-in after the event is challenging. So ideally you should take them with you on the journey. If they are involved from the start and throughout the journey they will feel it is their plan and their ideas.  You build in buy-in.

So. There you have. The animal magic ideas to help you gain buy in and commitment as part of your stakeholder management.

Related links on buy-in

Animal magic and the art of buy-in  (September 2019)

Buy in workshops in Manchester and Dublin  (March 2019)

10 tips from a workshop on buy-in (September 2018)

Bottlenecks and bulldozers   (August 2016)

Buy-in with Oranges, elephants and dancing (April 2016)

Planning to persuade  (January 2014)

Face time and reframing (March 2013)

Getting it past the partners  (June 2012)