Buy In Isn’t Bought (part 1 of 4)

By Tom Davidson

10 Tips (not Tricks) for Motivating the Paid-Volunteer Workforce

“Buy in” is a common management phrase describing the extent to which important audiences (i.e., “stakeholders” like employees, special interest groups, and customers) will support a product, an idea or a project.

Without buy in, projects fall short of their potential. Good ideas languish with inattention, and important programs wait for just another program to come along.

Because your employees have the real power – the power of choice – which trumps your authority as manager every time.

Yet new managers and naïve leaders often assume that they just have to find the right combinations of selling skills, carrots and sticks, or techniques to get their associates to do what they want or need. Isn’t that what good leaders does?

Not exactly. Here’s a big tip. Treat them as if they’re volunteers, because in a very real sense, that’s what they are

Today’s paid workforce resembles true volunteers more than ever. They don’t have to work for you. They don’t really have to stay. And even if they feel they must, they don’t have to give you (or the organization) more than the bare minimum of effort. Then how do you treat a volunteer if you want them to stay and give their best effort?

Ten Tips (not tricks) for Motivating Volunteers

1. Treat them with respect.

2. Put them in jobs that interest them the most.

3. Show them how what they do, matters.

4. Give them as much choice as possible.

5. Get them involved in the decisions that affect them.

6. When something has to be decided without them, then get their fingerprints on it anyway.

7. Get them the training and tools they need.

8. Ask for their help.

9. Trust them to do their work but verify that they are on track.

10. Hold them accountable because the rest of the team is watching.

In the next few blogs posts, we’ll explore each of these so that you can put them into practice earning – instead of buying – buy in.

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