The “Buy-in” is a little known but incredibly powerful tool for corporate success

buy-in-image

You’ve got a good idea. Maybe it’s a new software system to help automate time-consuming manual processes. Maybe you saw a complicated problem and figured out a solution. Or a new initiative aimed at improving current processes. It’s going to help many people across multiple divisions. Implementing it could make a crucial difference for your company and will make every impacted person’s life easier. You talk to your boss and she gives you the go-ahead. You are excited. You spend extra time at the office researching and planning. You do all the work. You create a power point deck to present to the stake holders. You put a meeting on the calendar and invite all the right people. Your research is solid. Your presentation is kick-ass. This is a high-visibility project that could even catapult your career. You can’t wait to blow the socks off everyone.

On the day of the meeting, you present it to the group. But you don’t get the response you were expecting. Instead you get confounding questions and some inane comments in return. The guy in operations who’s group would likely benefit the most, points out a small obscure flaw in your idea and unnecessarily makes it a huge issue. You try to explain that the roadblock he pointed out is minor and can be resolved. But at this point, no one is listening. Before you know, your idea is dead, shot down. You can’t believe it. This was supposed to be a no-brainer. You leave the meeting feeling frustrated at the lack of support.

What happened?

You failed to get the buy-in.

The concept of a buy-in is little understood in the lower ranks of the corporate hierarchy, but it is one of the most effective tools used by those at the top.

The idea of a buy-in is simple. It’s the execution that requires a lot of work on your part.

Wikipedia sums it up the best | “In management and decision making, buy-in signifies the commitment of interested or affected parties to a decision. The goal is to get the stakeholders to ‘buy into’ the decision, that is, to agree (in advance) to give it support , often by having been involved in its formulation.

So what does this mean?

It means you need to get everyone’s involvement and support before you walk into the conference room. Before “officially” presenting an idea in front of many people in a public setting, you need to meet with each person “unofficially”. In this unofficial meeting, take the persons through your idea and your presentation and ask for candid feedback. By discussing it with them privately, you give each person the time to absorb your idea. In addition, you give them an opportunity to privately voice their concerns and opposition and thus, give you time to tweak your plans and presentation. Many follow up meetings may be needed to get their buy in. But in the end, you will have secured support before you even step into the meeting. In a best case, they may even contribute to making your idea better.

DO NOT schedule the official meeting until you have every person’s input and support for your idea.

Listen. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to be self-serving and envious of others. No one, especially those who think you are competing against them at the workplace, wants to see you succeed if they can’t enjoy the same success or be a part of your success. They definitely don’t want to see you come up with great ideas and get a ton of recognition while they sit on their asses doing nothing.

Majority of the time, it’s not even on purpose. Much of human behavior is driven by the subconscious. Your idea may result in a change to the status-quo and many people don’t like change. Usually, in people’s mind, there is a belief system in place about how things should work. Not only are you challenging that belief, you’re telling them that it’s wrong and it needs to change. This makes them uncomfortable. So, it doesn’t matter how great your idea is. It doesn’t even matter if it’s in their best interest. They’re going to find a hole and shoot it down because a) there’s no way you should be getting ahead and b) it’s not aligned with their belief system.

And there’s your ticket. “It’s not aligned with their belief system.” You can work on that.

How? By winning hearts and minds. By gently nudging their belief system to align with yours. Get the idea in front of them beforehand and actively ask for their input. Another subconscious aspect of human nature is advice giving. People LOVE giving advice and opinions. It’s an instant ego booster. By asking for their opinions, you’re making them feel important and getting them to connect with your project at an emotional level [subconsciously]. And honestly, you may actually benefit from their input. As you go through and incorporate everyone’s ideas and even figure out how to address the comments and challenges from the naysayers, you can ensure that you get everyone’s buy-in before you even enter that conference room.

You do this and your success is guaranteed.

A wager…

Here’s the deal.

First, give me $1000.

Then, give me one name from ALL the people you know.

Now sit back and relax. From now on, you’ll get 10% of all their earnings. Forever. Month after month and year after year for the rest of their life. Guaranteed!

Who would you bet on?

Obviously you’ll want to pick the person who you’ve determined will be the most successful over the course of their life. But how do you pick? What criteria do you look for?

This question was posed by Warren Buffet to a group of graduating MBA students a few years ago. Warren Buffet has made a living from picking the right people. He is one of the richest people on the planet, not because he invents things or sells great products but because he bets on people. His business model is to find a company run by the right people, invest in it and let those people keep doing what they do. All the while collecting a small percentage in returns. By doing this, he’s built a company who’s stock is worth $210,500 per share (see BRK.A).

How does Buffet find his winners?

He looks at character. Specifically, there are three traits in a person’s character that lead to long-term sustainable success:  Intelligence, Energy & Integrity

Intelligence | It’s not the person with the highest grades or the best SAT scores that possesses the intelligence required for success. It’s much more simple. It’s having the ability to assess situations quickly and make decisions that maximize opportunity while minimizing negative impact. It’s  having adaptive intelligence. Adaptive intelligence, unlike I.Q. intelligence, is not inherent. It’s the ability to see the pole coming at you while you’re running and dodging just enough to avoid a full on blow but instead take a hit on your shoulders and keep running. It’s the ability to see the pattern before it fully emerges and adapt.

Energy | Energy is keeping yourself healthy and to develop a bias to action. People who have a tendency to take action over just thinking about taking action. It’s taking initiative even when the results are not too clear. It’s about having the physical vitality recover from a cold quickly and be back at work the next day to kick ass. It’s having the strength to mentally push yourself into action, to take on more than your share of the workload and a willingness to crush it every single day.

Integrity | This is the most important one of all. Seriously! Without integrity, the other two are worthless. In fact, they are dangerous. We all know that integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. But in this case, it’s more than that. Integrity is about being true to yourself. It’s about formulating a set of values and beliefs and then ensuring that every action, every thought and every part of your life is geared to align with those values.

So, who do you bet on?

What if I told you that there was one person in the world that you know, who you can pick and for that person you don’t have to give me the $1000. More importantly, you will get to keep 100% of the income they earn over their lifetime.

That person, my Korporate Klimbing friends, is YOU.

How? you ask?

The great thing is that none of the three qualities described above are inherent. These are not qualities that successful people are born with. They are self-selected. Each of these qualities can be learned, developed and perfected.

Conor Neill, professor at the prestigious IESE Business School in Spain, gives us tools to get started on developing each of the characteristics above.

Tools for success

Build intelligence | Adaptive intelligence is not something one needs to be born with. The ability to think on your feet and to be able to “pivot” at the right time can be taught.

Write it down

Start by writing stuff down. Start a daily journal or diary. Spend five to ten minutes to write down the ideas you had today, the names of people you’ve met and describe the experiences you’ve had. By writing down ideas on a daily basis, six months from now, you won’t be the intelligence of one moment. Instead, you will have the accumulated intelligence of six months of ideas you’ve written down, of contacts you’ve made and of things you’ve learned. Write down your life. By documenting the learnings from your daily life, you will accumulate intelligence far beyond what you can get from mastering chess strategy or an MBA course.

Maximize energy | Deal with your day one step at a time. Focus your energy on small chunks of deliverables. Break large and complicated projects into small milestones that can be met quickly. High performance athletes don’t think about the finish line or the outcome at the end of the game. Instead, they focus on the next one minute, the next five minutes and what they have to accomplish in that small amount of time. Football quarterbacks focus on moving forward in inches and on moving ten yards at a time. They don’t focus on the outcome of the three hour game. They create short term goals and they meet them. Similarly, focus on the next task. Not on that deliverable due in three months.

Develop integrity | Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and consistent commitment to honor your values and beliefs.

Do you know how a child spells love? T.I.M.E. List the top give things that you consider important to you. Your kids, your parents, your career, you hobbies etc. Now list the top five activities that take up most of your time. The five activities that fill up your calendar. Are they aligned? Most likely not.

The coherence between your time and your values is where integrity begins. So little of our time goes to the things that we mean to do. Integrity is spending your precious time on the things that matter to you. Each day, hundreds of tiny decisions are made on where you spend your time that are not aligned with your values. We find ourselves inadvertently spending hours on Facebook when we just meant to check in for a few mins. Time spent watching the latest reality show. Time spent on playing candy crush. More importantly, time spent on doing things for other people just to please them. Learn to say NO. Say no to the little temptations that suck your time away. The ones that distract you from the things that are important to you. Say no to the requests of others that are not aligned to your values. 

Each one of these characteristics can be developed. More importantly, by turning these into habits, you ensure that they become part of your life.

All it takes is discipline. And practice. Lots. Of. Practice.

Will you bet on yourself?

Bet onyourself

 

Best advice on work, life & why we should all be friends with assholes

Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape (the godfather of all web-browsers) is a titan in silicon valley. He recently published a list of people we should all follow on twitter. One of my favorites is Sunil Rawat (@_sunilrawat).

Sunil kicks ass as a Korporate Klimber. He’s got a take-no-prisoners attitude to work, life and success. Take a read below:

SunilRawat Tweet

 

 

Check him out here

Got promoted. Didn’t negotiate salary. You just got screwed!

Everyone knows to negotiate salary and other benefits when you’re first offered a job at a company. However, many people, even the best ones, rarely think to negotiate on offers when they make internal moves within departments or as they get promoted.

Consider the following:

Dana, who’s perceived as an expert in her field among her peers and senior leaders, gets assigned to a new function within her unit. Her hard work at her current role had paid off. She’d been in her role for four years and was more than ready to move on and move up. Her manager thought so as well. However, when it came to offering her the new role, her manager casually introduced it to her during her annual employee performance review. And instead of giving her a nice increase, gave her just the annual increase of 3.5%. She was told that it was a lateral move, even though it really wasn’t, and because she didn’t push to get more, she gained very little financially.

Adam is a high performer who came into his current role and owned it. He made that role his bitch. Within just a few months, he not only became an expert at the systems but also implemented process improvements that saved his company hundreds of thousands of dollars. His work caught the eye of senior leaders who kept hearing about his successes. His unique skill sets made him perfect for a new role being created. He was tapped on the shoulder and encouraged to take it. During salary negotiations, he was offered a 6% increase. He knew that not only was he the perfect fit for the role, he was the only choice. Also realizing that this was a promotional role, he countered with 10% increase. After a somewhat tense negotiation, he settled for 7%.

Michael is also a high performer at his company. He was an external hire brought in to manage the compliance process and he kicked ass. Similar to Adam, a unique role opened up for which he was perfect and he was asked to apply. Knowing fully well that he was the best and the only option, he pushed hard against the low-ball increase he was given initially. The result – he got a 15% bump in his salary.

Not only are these real life scenarios, they are also people working for the same company (albeit at different departments), at the same professional level and were offered new positions around the same time. So why was it that one person barely got an increase while another secured a huge bump? It comes down to how well you negotiate.

Think about it this way. A bump from 6% to 10% may not make a big difference in real dollars so you may decide that it’s not worth fighting for. But this one act of laziness can result in a lifetime of being underpaid. There is a tangible cost to not negotiating a higher salary. And this cost is cumulative over time. Without a counteroffer, you can easily lose out on thousands of dollars.

salary.com negotiation infographic

Every job offer and terms, even internal ones are negotiable. Many people hesitate to negotiate internal offers because they feel like it’s not an option. Trust me, the HR manager who’s offering you the job is incentivized to get the most from you at the lowest cost possible. She’s working for the company. Not you. And if you’re not fighting for yourself, then who is?

 

Next up: Part II How to effectively negotiate an internal job offer (coming soon)

 

Mentors provide the “secret sauce” to career success

Mentoring-wht1

As a professional navigating the corporate world, the importance of having mentors can’t be understated. Unfortunately, it is one of the most easily overlooked pieces of career management. Most of us are so busy being high performers that we forget the value of wisdom offered by those who’ve already been there and those who can guide us in ways we didn’t consider.

As a korporate klimber, you are not just a professional. You are a brand. You’re not just a businessman. YOU are a business. Man!

All successful and long-lasting businesses have a board of directors. Your mentors are your personal board of directors who are there to help you manage your brand (and your career). Having a good group of mentors is helpful when you come across challenges at work or are faced with important career decisions and when you need someone’s unbiased point of view.

Mentors help fill your knowledge gaps and provide opportunities to help your professional growth. A good mentor will make it comfortable for you to let down your guard, share your insecurities, and ask the ‘stupid’ questions we all have sometimes. A good mentor is also honest and unafraid to tell you hard truths about yourself and your work. She helps you navigate the politics of your organization or profession, and avoid the land mines. She pushes you to take risks and aim higher, and advocates for you when you’re not there.

As you seek to develop the mentor relationship here are some basics to consider

  • Don’t force it. But be persistent in showing continued interest in and respect for the mentor’s opinions
  • Cultivate more than one mentor
  • Look for mentors both in your department and outside
  • Look for mentors both inside your company and outside
  • Mentors don’t have to be in the same profession or field as you. Build relationships with people from different backgrounds
  • Don’t only focus on mentors that are older than you. Instead, put age aside and look for people who are successful in their fields and know more than you
  • Find someone you respect and someone who respects you back. The ultra popular frat brother who gave you wedgies but was soooo cool, should not be on your list
  • Don’t pick someone to be a mentor if you want or plan to work for them someday. A mentor should be viewed as long term guidance counselor, not your future boss
  • Choose wisely. Pick a reliable person who will “show up” when needed.

Successful people build relationships and gather intelligence from a wide variety of experts in all industries and age brackets. Insular people who are unwilling to leave their comfort zone become closed off from opportunities.

Mentors provide guidance and help you overcome challenges, both professional and personal. And if you’re really lucky, they will inspire you along the way.

Facebook COO shows young women how to be a Korporate Klimber

Recently, Facebook’s powerful COO Shery Sandberg answered 10 questions to Time magazine about how young, ambitious women can take control of their careers and rise to the top. She is the epitome of what Korporate Klimber is all about. She’s young. She’s ambitious. And she’s at the top. She has been ranked in Time’s 100 people influencing the world. In her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead she talks about how young women should approach the corporate world.

0513_sheryl-sandberg-

What were you like in college?

I learned how to study. The first five-page paper I wrote was a project for our entire junior year [in high school]. In college I had to write five-page papers overnight.

You emphasize the importance of finding the right romantic partner. How are college women supposed to think about that?

Starting out evenly, even in college, is so important. It’s easy to fall into the girlfriend routine, like “I’ll do that laundry,” “Let me pick up that errand.” That’s nice the first month, but by the fifth year of marriage you’re gonna be sorry you did that.

What kind of ongoing gender imbalances do you see for women in entry-level jobs?

Who takes notes in a meeting? So often it’s the junior women. You can’t fully participate if you’re always taking notes. And by the way, the men who are your peers? They can take notes too.

What would you tell a young woman who feels stuck at the start of her career?

Look at jobs and think “I can,” not “I shouldn’t.” Apply for jobs, apply for opportunities, say that you can do things even when you’re not sure.

If you’re stuck picking up dry cleaning, what’s the best way to ask your boss to take you more seriously?

Say, “I love this company. I love this job. I am willing to do anything, because I’m that kind of person. I do want to make sure I’m progressing and taking on things that are going to challenge me more. Can you walk me through the things I need to demonstrate so I can earn more responsibility?”

What have been some of your biggest mistakes?

I wasn’t worried about having kids and a career, because I thought all women were going to have both. I think we’re smarter now, and we know how challenging it is. I got married young, when I really had no business getting married. I made lots of mistakes along the way.

What about smaller screwups?

When I was first at the World Bank, I put in the figures for a speech Larry Summers gave about girls’ education, and I got one country’s literacy rate totally wrong. The representative from that country called the president of the World Bank to complain. I was like, “In college when you get it wrong, they put a little red circle. But here if I get it wrong, this whole country is going to be insulted.” So I said I was sorry, and I started checking figures a lot more carefully.

Why do you think women are so afraid of making mistakes?

When men make mistakes, they don’t internalize it as their fault, so it doesn’t hurt them as much. Because gender makes us overestimate male performance and underestimate female performance, we have more tolerance for men’s mistakes.

How should college women balance exploring different interests with focusing on career goals?

It can be either, but you have to be explicit. Maybe you want to use college to do volunteer work, or get into grad school, or make lots of friends, or get a job in the business world. But don’t let life happen–make it happen.

 

via TIME

Didn’t get that promotion? The reason may be your spouse … (or Boo or BAE)

TURNS OUT WHO YOU MARRIED COULD DETERMINE YOUR CAREER SUCCESSspouse-supportive-success

We all know that our significant other has a big impact on whether we live a happy life. But according to research from Washington University in St. Louis, your significant other’s personality also influences your behavior at the workplace.

In fact, when it comes to pay raises, promotions and other measures of career success, a supportive and reliable partner may exert a bigger influence on your workplace performance than you realize. In contrast, a struggling partnership at home can wear on professional performance in subtle ways.

According to Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study, “Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too.”

The five-year study looked at the lives of 5,000 married people (ages 19-89) split between couples where both spouses worked (75%) or where one spouse was a stay-at-home parent (25%). Researchers tracked job satisfaction, salary increases, and promotion-eligibility of the participants who were also given psychological tests to assess their openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness.

Workers who scored highest on measures of occupational success tended to have a spouse with a personality that scored high for conscientiousness. The correlation between a supportive spouse and a successful significant other held up, regardless of gender.

Success is a team-effort. The researchers found that three factors drive couples who succeed:

  1. Splitting day-to-day household chores like paying bills, buying groceries and raising children. The “outsourcing” of some of these tasks meant less worrying about errands at work.
  2. A supportive and trusting partner subconsciously encourages their spouse to emulate good habits. Being reliable at home makes for a more trustworthy employee; if your spouse trusts you to pick up groceries on the way home, you’re likely an employee whom your boss can trust to deliver good work on time.
  3. Finally, a conscientious partner who is diligent and reliable is a stress reliever. A spouse that keeps your personal life running smoothly will reduce stress and make it easier to maintain a productive work-life balance.

Career success is a long, slow and exhausting process. It’s like running a marathon that lasts 40 to 50 years. Having a partner who is supportive of your ambitions, who pushes you to keep going when you want to give up and who takes the load off your shoulders on days when you’re overwhelmed can be the factor that makes or breaks you.