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5 ways to get leadership buy-in for HR initiatives



Getting leadership buy-in for HR is the foundation of a successful initiative.

Buy-in doesn’t simply mean the stamp of approval — it means that leaders support efforts, build excitement and promote the new initiative so that it gets off the ground.

However, despite the impact that leadership buy-in has on the success of any new initiative or program, it can be difficult to obtain.

But with the following strategies, getting leadership on your side can be much simpler.

1. Define goal to gain buy-in for HR

Before leadership even comes into the equation, you need a strategy behind the new initiative:

  • What are the goals and objectives for the new program?
  • What are the methods of implementation and participation?
  • What is the budget?

This strategy also needs to clearly show the pain point the new initiative is trying to solve (and how the initiative will solve it). By showing evidence of a challenge and conveying how the new initiative will be a solution, leadership will see its importance right off the bat.

And finally, plan how each member of the executive team can contribute to the success of the new program. Getting everyone involved makes the initiative a team effort.

2. Create a team of champions

The more people who believe in the initiative, the easier leadership will be to convince and bring on board. To that end, communicate the initiative to managers and influential employees in the company and see who is passionate about it.

Gather these people together to champion the new idea, and have them each research how the initiative would impact their specific departments or teams.

You should also take advantage of your team of champion’s perspectives — ask them questions such as:

  • What’s the most effective way to present this project?
  • What changes would you suggest to the current proposal?
  • What goals do you have for this initiative?

3. Produce a project proposal

An internal project proposal puts together everything you’ve done so far, including:

  • background info on why you’ve planned the project
  • benefits of implementing the initiative
  • description of any new responsibilities
  • desired results and goals of the project
  • methods you plan on implementing
  • schedules and timelines expected, and
  • budgetary considerations and plans.

By covering all of these aspects in a project proposal, leadership will get an extremely clear idea of the what, why and how of the new initiative. The clearer the plan, the more of leadership’s concerns you’ll assuage before they have a chance to air them.

4. Focus on ROI

Because of the nature of their positions, business leaders are focused on costs and returns. This necessitates putting a heavy emphasis on what exactly the ROI of your proposed project will be.

For an example, consider the plan to implement an employee recognition program. The desired outcomes might be something like an improved company culture, a higher level of employee engagement and increased employee retention rates.

For the ROI, you may provide this information:

  • 4X greater engagement when employees feel appreciated
  • 3X greater employee loyalty when companies prioritize recognition
  • 14% improved productivity and performance, and
  • 2X greater chance of employee turnover without recognition.

With these clear benefits on the table, you can also tie the ROI in with the company goals and strategies. For example, 3X greater loyalty lowers turnover rates, and 14% better performance leads to higher profits.

5. Be open to feedback

Even with an organized proposal and plenty of support from other employees, chances are leadership will have reservations, suggestions, or questions. Go into your meeting with these expectations to avoid any feelings of frustration or defensiveness.

Leadership has a lot on their mind, and they have to juggle many priorities. So when they have questions or concerns, negotiate with them on budget, timing, staff requirements, etc. Chances are, getting leadership input will strengthen your project, not undermine it.

Get company-wide projects rolling

By doing the preparation, recruiting a team of champions, and focusing on powerful ROI, gaining leadership buy-in won’t be nearly as difficult as many HR professionals think.

Whether you’re trying to start a new professional development venue, implement an employee recognition program, or start a wellness strategy, these tips will get your leaders on board and increase the success rate of your chosen project.

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