Your finance team deals with resistance and pushback – which can negatively affect your processes and bottom line – all the time.
CFOs know what it looks like: A vendor who always “forgets” to include details on its invoices. A department manager who never seems to follow your timekeeping rules. A traveler who habitually neglects your T&E policy.
No matter how many times your staffers reaffirm finance policies or repeat requests, it doesn’t seem to sink in.
And there’s a reason: Research shows when people push back on company policies, just repeating the policies won’t get them to buy in. Instead, you need to understand why they feel so strongly and how to adjust your communications approach to reach them.
Check out some expert advice – from the Federal Bureau of Investigation no less – on getting buy-in when people you work with are resistant to change.
Listen first, influence later
All employees, vendors and customers bring unique perspectives about business operations. Sometimes, that’s a good thing – it can lead to innovation and inspired collaboration. But it can also lead to friction when a strong opinion or belief conflicts with your company’s policies.
A solution: The Behavioral Change Stairway Model (BCSM), developed by the FBI for crisis negotiation, is one framework that can help people understand and embrace policies instead of being resistant.
The five components of the BCSM are active listening, empathy, rapport, influence and behavioral change. Here’s how your finance staffers can put them into action:
- Start by creating space to listen to and truly understand the employee’s or trading partner’s reasons for being resistant to a policy or program (active listening). The goal is to identify the values underlying their disagreement (empathy). So, say a vendor doesn’t want to provide certain information about their financial standing for your risk assessment. Through a conversation, you may determine that they value discretion and caution.
- Then you can explore how your practices or policies actually align with those values (rapport). For example, your team could explain to noncompliant travelers who value ease that following T&E limits upfront will make for less of a headache for them during the reimbursement process.
- This allows you to guide and change their behavior (influence). If staffers shows Finance values others’ opinions, people will feel like they’re part of the process, rather than having decisions forced upon them (behavioral change).
Most finance staffers would be thrilled to receive less resistance and pushback, so be sure to share this approach with them. You may even want to go through a few example scenarios featuring people with “pretend resistance” to see how they put each step into action and whether they’re able to inspire behavioral change.