Getting buy-in from your team is imperative for the success of any change initiative, especially when implementing changes to the way people perform their work and how they behave.

A 2007 survey of manufacturers, of which 70% used Lean as an improvement methodology, found that only 2% of the respondents achieved their objectives. Read more on our blog 10 Reasons why Lean Transformations Fail.

When leaders act in a way that fails to secure buy-in from their teams, the likelihood of success decreases significantly and could arguably be non-existent. Think about it, if an idea is rolled out and you have absolutely no belief in the effort, how would you react? Some will actively resist by being vocal and expressing their opinions, while others will be passive and will just go through the motions sabotaging the effort. We must try to avoid this to have the best chance of success.

Below are eight ways manufacturers can help avoid starting their initiative on the wrong foot.

  1. Share the vision – The leader of the initiative typically has an objective they want to reach. There will be a method and a plan to accomplish the objective, with the latter being all that most people see as communication cascades down. The lack of visibility will cause people to question the initiative. Make sure they understand the entire picture, or you risk creating confusion and thus resistance.
  2. Answer the Why – This is one of the most critical pieces of information leaders need to share with their teams. As the perennial phrase says, “people are creatures of habit”; this triggers most people to question the reason for making changes. If they do not see a strong enough case for making changes, more than likely, they will not buy-in.
  3. Educate them – In many manufacturing organizations, employees lack access to or just have not taken the time to remain up to date on new methods or technologies available. Here is another perennial phrase – “we don’t know what we don’t know.” We cannot blame others for not buying in when they do not understand or have not been appropriately educated and introduced to a significant change.
  4. Show them the benefits – This one ties to the first two items on this list. Understanding all the positive things that the initiative will bring to the organization could help employees get over the hump and start to buy-in. Things like growth and profitability, for instance, are the things that will allow the business to thrive. Please read our blog 5 Ways Lean Can Help Your Bottom Line.


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These first four are foundational and should be addressed very early in the process. Next week I will share the rest of our recommendations.

If lack of buy-in is affecting your Lean initiative, and you would like to discuss how we can help schedule a call.

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