Home » Management Tips with Babatunde Fajimi » Understanding Management Buy-in in the Workplace

Understanding Management Buy-in in the Workplace

Getting management buy-in is linked to employees’ effectiveness in the workplace and employees’ inability to get management buy-in is a major cause of conflicts and employee ineffectiveness in the workplace.

Management buy-in is the process of presenting upward a request, an idea or a plan to management with the objective of getting it endorsed for implementation. Since the office is structured, approval process is usually upward, and employees will only carry out their plans only when they have been duly approved by management.

Management buy-in implies management’s consent to employees’ request. It means management’s provisions of resources by a way of approval in its various forms to enable employees effectively carry out their duties. Employees requesting management buy-in may be as basic as raising requests for petty cash voucher or complex as marketing plan to expand a product line. The reality in the workplace is that the occasions of decline are more than those of concurrence. The missing link is the lack of understanding of what constitutes management buy-in, how not to get it, and the best strategies to deploy to get it.

Management exists to provide leadership, direction and resources to employees to execute the goals of the company. On the other hand, employees depend on management to give consent to their requests to work in order to generate values for the organizations. Problems occur because employees do not know how to go about getting management buy-in. Employees usually assume that they have a sense of entitlement, and it is their right that whenever they put forward a request to management, management should endorse it. No, your management is not a rubber stamp. Employees require certain skill sets in interacting with management in order to get their buy-in to succeed in their day-to-day activities in the workplace.

Employees will be more productive if they understand how to get management to consent to their proposals and plans. Otherwise, they experience frustrations because of their inability to get management buy-in to their requests, propositions and plans.

In large organizations where there are Standard Operating Procedures, there are guidelines for getting things done. The steps are laid out and there are no ambiguities. Employees know what to do to get things authorized by management. They know that if they don’t get these steps done in details, their requests will never move to the next stage, talk less of getting the management for approval. So, in a structured environment, most routine activities are mapped, and the procedures for getting things done are spelt out in clear terms. The challenge in large organization lies in managing and implementing change. Managing change is not mapped, of course.

In unstructured organizations or SMEs without the level of structures that large corporations have, employees are always struggling to understand why their requests are always declined by management. It is important to state from the onset that there is nothing personal if your manager declines your requests.

More often than not, in a professional environment, it could be that the managers cannot assign any tangible value to your requests, and so such requests do not make sense to them, and they cannot approve them. When this happens, employees are frustrated. In some organization, employees whisper among them, “That boss is a hard person. My request for expansion of new product line has been declined.” Another person who has put in a request for personal loan cried, “My madam has turned down my loan request. She is too difficult.” Some others said, “Why is it always difficult to get what we want from management in this organization?”

The cries are too many to enumerate here. The bottom line is that employees in the workplace are always in needs of resources to work. These resources could be finance, human, technology, systems and infrastructure. They could be the need for personal resources too. Having these things in place require the concurrence of management.

When employees do not get what they want from management, they respond in a way that aggravates the situation. This does not in any way help matters. Employees fight management. Typically, conflict arises in organization because management and employees are not reading from the same page. They see things different. The union and its leadership are always pitched in battle against management because they lack the basic understanding of how management works. Most industrial actions and workplace strikes occur because employees have demands that management have not met. If you exclude management rascality, the inability of workers to get management buy-in is a major cause of breakdown in relationship that usually results in such industrial actions and workplace strikes. Conflict does not enforce management buy-in; it strains smooth relationship that is a key ingredient in getting management buy-in.

Having a shouting match with your manager is not the way to get management buy-in. You hear a lot of argument behind closed doors during meetings between management and employees. Employees argue their requests endlessly only to be met with a decline as rugged as the old Berlin Walls because management is not convinced that the value propositions put forward by the employees would benefit the organization. Argument is not the way to get management to turn around and accept your requests. Employees who are in the habit of arguing with your managers should desist because it does not produce results.

Many employees resent management because of these employees’ inability to get management buy-in. Employees have put in request for loans or vacations but management does not deem it expedient to approve such requests. The way to respond is not to begin to resent such managers and looking for unorthodox way to deal with them. You will ‘deal’ with the manager but still do not get the desired satisfaction because your needs have not been granted. What the employee in this situation needs is not to ‘deal’ with the manager but to acquire information and skill needed to get management buy-in in the organization for the mutual benefits of all stakeholders.

Some employees sabotage the organizations when they are unable to get management buy-in. There are many ways they do this, and all fall under the description of counterproductive work behaviours. All acts of absenteeism, tardiness, theft, workplace aggression among others, as a result of employees’ inability to get management buy-in, make the organization to lose at the end of the day. An employee who steals from the company because the manager does not approve personal loan is jeopardizing the organization. Employees who refuse to come to work because the manager does not approve their leave application requests are jeopardizing their career. All acts of sabotage threaten the chances of an organization to survive.

Quitting your job is not the solution to your inability to get management buy-in. Most talented and intelligent employees quit their jobs too soon and move on to other things. Some eventually abandon their careers. This is simply because they do not have the skills to get management buy-in. Resignation is not a positive response to inability to get management buy-in. Your competences count to your employers. Leaving the job prematurely damages your career development. Employers are careful when interviewing candidates because they do not want to employ individuals who jump from one job to another because they have problems with their managers.

On the flip side, employees suffer stress and burnout because they find it difficult to get management buy-in. Management buy-in becomes a stressor that affects the health and wellness of employees. Some employees grow grey hairs early in life because of stress. They burnout and are tired before they are due for retirement. They are constantly worried that their managers are not responding to them well enough to support their work. Some fall sick, and spend more time in the hospital than on their desk because of emotional breakdown. Stress, burnout, emotional breakdown and sickness are expensive and negatively impact the bottom line of the organization.

The climax of inappropriate reaction to inability of employees to get management buy-in is that desperate employees commit suicide. These desperate employees take things personal that they cannot stand the shame of rejection. They suffer serious emotional dissonance that pushes them to take their own lives. Taking one’s own life is not the solution to any problem and is not advised at all. Employees suffering inner tension because of their inability to get management buy-in should promptly get help from professionals before matters get out of hand.

There are approaches that employees can use in the workplace to get management buy-in. The office is what it is: it is a workplace. Emotions and sentiments do not have a place in the workplace. Professionalism is what should drive successful organizations. Employees should understand this simple mantra and change their approach to demands and use of resources.

In the workplace, nothing is offered on the platter of gold. Nothing is free. There is a price to be paid for everything you intend to get out of management. You work for everything you get. Nobody will give you anything freely. Therefore, employees should eliminate from their dictionary their ‘sense of entitlement’. This is because nobody owes you anything. You are hired to work. You are employed to exchange your talent, skills and competences for the right fees, and that is what employment is all about. In the process of offering your services, you will have to continually engage management and convince them that you deserve what you are requesting.

Employees should realize that getting management buy-in is very important to their career enrichment. If employees know how to approach management and get out of them the resources and personal needs they require succeeding on the job, their careers will be pointing upward. A lot of employees have committed career suicide because they fail to realize that they should use the appropriate skills to get management buy-in. They have confronted management instead of engaging them, and get their fingers burnt in the process. They quit their jobs, and move on to other things. Some people abandon teaching profession not because it could not pay the bills but because they face frustrations as a result of their inability to get management buy-in of their programmes. Some professions are impoverished because talented practitioners quit too soon. Employees enjoy career enrichment when they know how to get management buy-in.

Employees grow on the job and get job satisfaction when they are able to get management buy-in. It shows they know how to approach and engagement management. They derive job satisfaction on the job: they enjoy their work. They love to come to work on time. They are happy doing their work. They are not counting down to closing time immediately after lunch break. They know that they can always get the support of management. They have learnt the art of interacting with management and getting their buy-in.

Getting management buy-in lead to personal happiness. Employees who are able to get management buy-in are able to express themselves and have personal happiness in the workplace. They show signs of contentment. They are comfortable with themselves. They are comfortable with their careers. They are comfortable with their environment. They have good working relationship with their bosses and are able to nurture their careers in their organizations. They know their organizational structure and how to work it. They are not stressed about resource inadequacies. They can stretch their skills to work around gaps in the workplace. They devise plans to deal with resource inadequacies by coming up with value propositions that are well grounded to persuade management that such plans will work favourable in the best interest of the organization.

Getting management buy-in eliminates stress. Employees who know how to get management buy-in eliminates workplace stress. They are not perturbed about anything relating to their careers and the organization. They have a sound sense of self appraisal and interpret events in the organization well. They have the level of emotional intelligence to cope with evolving changes in the workplace.

Author: Babatunde Fajimi

Article was originally published in The Union Newspaper under Management Tips with Babatunde Fajimi on Sunday, November 8, 2015. The concluding part titled Employees Guide to Getting Management Buy-In will be published shortly. 



  1. Demola Aderinto says:

    Interesting, sir. Kudos.


  2. stev alegbe says:

    Management Buy in in a work place is a win win affairs between Employer and Employee. Employer Will alway want to approve any requestt that will returned profit on investment and these request is espected to follow laid down procedure .Some times times employee may want to CRASH in to make some demand either to enhance profit, product promotion or personal needs , In this regard management have the right to approve or not to approve, because that request may not be part of the annual budget,


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