Have you ever found yourself in a meeting trying to convince a team to implement your recommendations? Perhaps you are a web designer who wants the team to move ahead with your design, or you are a user experience professional who has recommended a re-design to make a product more usable.
You work hard and put your skills and knowledge to use to come up with solutions. It’s frustrating if you can’t see those ideas actually implemented. It’s often hard for teams to come to agreement about how to fix a problem, or even to agree that there is a problem at all that needs fixing. Even if others agree with you, that’s not the same as actually taking action.
If you want your ideas to be implemented you can’t just talk about them and expect that others will automatically get excited and start implementing changes.
Over the years of my career I have faced the task of influencing a team to implement my recommendations hundreds of times. From my experience, and ideas from my mentors and colleagues, I’ve collected 7 tips to get a team to implement your recommendations.
Tip #1: Hide your top 3 recommendations — Let’s say you have 10 changes you are recommending to the team. Instead of presenting all 10, decide which 3 are the most important for the team to implement. Put those 3 LAST on the list to talk about. Start with the others. Present each of the ideas and be willing to negotiate or even “cave”. Then when you get to the 3 you think are the most important, you can stand firm on those. Don’t expressly say that those 3 are the most important. Instead say, “Hey, I’ve been willing to compromise on all of these other items, you’ve got to give me at least these 3”.
Concession at work — The reason this technique works is because of the principle of concession. In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I talk about the principle of concession. Robert. Cialdini was the first person to identify concession as a powerful influence. In the example above we are using concession in this way: When you ask someone for something and they don’t say yes, they make you negotiate or compromise, or they outright say no (the first 7 items on your list of 10), they actually set up an indebtedness. They now owe you. So then you ask for your last 3 items on your list and they (largely unconsciously) feel that it’s their turn to say yes.
What do you think? Have you tried this technique? Did it work for you? Did you see more of your recommendations being implemented?
Stay tuned for the rest of the 7 tips in upcoming blog posts.
For more information:
Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? by Susan Weinschenk
The Psychology of Influence by Robert Cialdini
20 Replies to “7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #1”
This idea certainly sounds like it would work. Unfortunately, it is hard to carry off when the protocol is to send everyone your report then meet together to discuss the results and needed actions.
They’ve got the issues and recommendations in front of them already. And you can consider it a compliment if managers read more than the first page of a report so the biggest issues have to be toward the beginning just to get scanned. Still, this gives me thinking material on how to better sell recommendations. Thank you.
Is this how you would want to be treated?
Lance — You are right, and I actually plan to address this in the next tip coming shortly!
Rich — I guess you can say that all persuasion techniques are manipulative. I’m sure that people use these techniques on me all the time. it’s a fuzzy line. Negotiating, compromising… are those manipulative? Talking louder than other people? Speaking first? Making a great presentation? Citing research? Going over someone’s head to the person above them? Where’s the line?
Thanks for the great tip. Oddly, though it seems obvious to save the best for last so one would have the momentum of concession, I usually push for my top things up front in a meeting, mostly because in-person meetings seem to have so little time.
Seems like the Door-in-the-face technique under another name. It does work though.
Susan, this is an interesting approach when working with people who are uncooperative. But wouldn’t the real benefit be to find a way to get stakeholders to understand and accept the value in all recommendations instead of using guilt in order for them to relent on the ones you want the most?
Susan, your blog is a gold mine of intriguing ideas and research. I can’t seem to stop reading.
I am passionate about psychological web marketing and in presenting sound ideas about web design and marketing to small business owners, but it is often futile.
People do not want to learn what you know, but they do want your opinions and insights. And they discard them with little thought. It’s a case of having all the options and choosing to make no change at all.
If you failed to bring a positive change within the discussion and the group later discovered the same ideas from another source they would hold you accountable for not MAKING them see your best ideas.
This is not a case of the “ends justifying the means”, it is a case of having the best intentions from start to finish. When the intention is for the benefit of others then your actions show integrity more than they show manipulation.
I now sees that Concession is a “loophole” in human psychology that could be utilize to our advantage. If Rich think it’s manipulative, I think it’s just another form of conditioning :) — a part of lobby & negotiation skills.
If the top 3 ideas are really bad I don’t think people will be manipulated to comply using this tips anyway.
My question is why designers constantly put themselves into this postion in the first place? It seems that we always have to plead with the people who asked for our expertise in the first place in order for them to accept our advice.
I propose that the way that we work is at issue here. If we continue to work in the same ways we always have, we will continue to get the same reactions from teams and stakeholders. It’s time for a new way of working. http://www.practicallyux.com/2011/10/designers-must-change/
thank you sharing the wonderful infuencing tips to influence people. but what if executive level leadership to present your idea in two minutes? which usually happense, then you really dont have time to present huge list of other choices that you have brain storm!
thank you for sharing a unique view point to influence people. but most of the time people are intersted to hear the most important periority ones (not the whole list) so they can spent thier energy and efforts, debating in depth! i also personally belive when the intellectual minds are sitting for some diaglogue, we should be able to provide the opportunity.
it is seen as most time saving strategies too!executive has always prefer to get the idea around the topic in initial 3 to 5 mintes