One Is Often Not EnoughIn business, we’re trained to make decisions logically, rationalising the benefits of a business proposal using a compelling recommendation supported by a robust business case. Often a single business meeting to review a commercial, credible, concise and clear-cut presentation is enough to get feedback and buy-in.
Yet, in real life, some business decisions can be more emotional in nature, particularly those that involve some element of personal risk, such as:
- ‘It might negatively impact my team’s sales or profit performance’
- ‘It might result in me losing some of my power base’
- ‘It might force me to do something that my peers or boss would disapprove of’.
In my experience, this emotional angle is as true for senior managers as it is for others, causing some senior managers to be helpful, some to be elusive, and some to be downright difficult.
Power Of 3When emotional concerns exist, one business meeting outlining a logical, compelling recommendation and a robust business case is unlikely to be enough. Rather than trying to bulldoze senior managers into agreeing to the recommendations in one meeting, marketers may need a series of meetings to listen to and understand their issues, find ways to address their concerns, and give them time and space to think the issues through.
Take, for instance, a large global project involving the migration of three local brands to a global brand. Understandably, local Board members were apprehensive that a brand name change would result in them being taken over by the global team and losing their local power base. During the first local brand migration workshop, the situation became so fraught that the local Chief Marketing Officer who had launched the original brand was so incensed that she exclaimed, “Stop, you’re killing my baby.”
Having now done a number of brand migration projects I’ve noticed that it typically takes three workshops to get teams on-board and comfortable:
- In the first workshop, their reaction and hope is that the whole issue will go away.
- In the second workshop, they recognise that someone senior must be supporting the initiative as “You’re here again”.
- In the third workshop, they start to see the upsides of a brand migration, such as the incremental local country investment enabling them to action their pet projects.
In SummaryIn more emotionally charged situations, one business meeting is often not enough to get buy-in. Instead, it’s important to take the time to listen to, understand and respect the concerns of those who will be affected – as well as give senior managers time and space to think the issues through.
By planning a series of meetings – with three meetings often giving the team the space they need to get comfortable with an idea. Marketers can bring the underlying emotional issues to light and more easily find a win-win solution that is mutually acceptable.See Ruth’s blog on ‘Dealing With Challenging Managers’ Connect with Ruth on LinkedIn here.