Custom built

Convincing employees to
buy in to something
they don’t agree with can be a challenge, says
Nancy P. Crews.

“They understand they
need to go out and still represent your point of view,
but I think that’s the most
difficult because their heart
may not be in it,” says the
founder, owner, president and
CEO of Custom Manufacturing
& Engineering Inc., a provider
of engineering, manufacturing and software products
and services.

Crews, who led the company to 2007 revenue of about
$14 million, says that if
someone’s heart isn’t in it,
it’s important to maintain a
one-on-one dialogue with
that person.

Smart Business spoke
with Crews about how to get
buy-in from your employees.

Q. How do you get employee
buy-in for the direction you
want to take the company?

One of the first things is
your management team. If
they don’t buy in to the
vision and direction, then the
people who report to them
will not buy in to the vision
and direction.

The second step is going
out and meeting and sharing
that vision with the employees. Even during meetings
with them or [when] we have
an all-hands meeting where
we meet with all the employees and say, ‘This is the
direction. We are heading in
that direction.’ Some of the
lower-level leaders, I meet
with in meetings where they
are reporting on programs or
their progress and what’s
going on in their department.
That gives you an opportunity to have dialogue with

Q. How do you get buy-in
from your management team?

You have to listen as to
why they think you shouldn’t
change direction. Then, open
up dialogue amongst all of
the managers. I like to hear
from everyone.

As I tell them, one of the
reasons I hire them is to
make sure they give
me their opinions, not
just give me what they
think I want to hear.

That helps just getting
the dialogue going. At
the end, it’s your company, and you get to
make that decision.