Paving the Way to Program Success: Building Stakeholder Buy-In

June 3, 2015

Paving the Way to Program Success: Building Stakeholder Buy-In
by Susan Kirkpatrick Muehlbach

Building stakeholder buy-in is a key component to the success of your mission-critical evaluation plan. 

Based on what I have learned throughout my career in various organizations, I have developed four specific tips that work whether you are in government, non-profit or for-profit organizations.

Read on to learn these four tips, which you’ll want to begin implementing immediately.

1. Learn what is important to the organization before you present your evaluation plan.
I have been hired from the outside in several organizations, and my first goal was to learn the culture. This involves finding out what the key mission is and how you can contribute to it. I have also taken the time to learn what is important to the leaders and developed a working knowledge of the key functions of the organizations. For example, when I joined a major insurance company, I took exams in order to learn the industry. Designations were important to the leaders, so they were impressed that I took the time to learn what was important to them. When I joined the airline industry, I studied the technical aspects of the job, joined investor calls and learned what was important to them. The end result was credibility when presenting training strategy and evaluation plans.

2. Build informal relationships with key leaders.
Take the initiative in setting up lunches and coffee with the key leaders. Most leaders are open to this if you send them a calendar invitation and show interest in what is important to them. I was part of the Northwest/Delta airline merger. I already had strong relationships with the Northwest leaders, so I went out of my way to set up informal meetings with the Delta leaders. I found that this approach paid off as the Delta leaders were very open to training strategy and new programs.

3. Look for opportunities to set the stage with leaders before you formally present your mission-critical evaluation plan.
As you have coffee or lunch with the leaders, look for opportunities to informally share some of the parts of your plan so they are not surprised at the meeting. Look for ways they can be an advocate for you at the formal meeting. If appropriate, ask one of your leaders to open the meeting and express support for your plan.

4. Follow up after the meeting, and thank leaders for their support.
Send a follow-up email thanking the leaders for their support. In the email, summarize the meeting and provide an honest outline of next steps

Join the Discussion

Are you already implementing any of these ideas? What, if any, implementation barriers would you anticipate in your organization? Here are some ways to join the conversation:


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Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick® Business Partnership Certificate Program

Bringing Business Partnership to Life: The Story of the Brunei Window Washer

Our Favorite Resources for Building Business Partnership

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