How to Get Leadership Buy-In for Ergonomics Improvements

Ergonomics team members play an important role in identifying jobs that pose a high risk for workers developing musculoskeletal disorders and promoting changes to fix them. However, if members aren’t trained to sell their ideas, getting buy-in to implement improvements can be difficult. Studies show that executives may dismiss otherwise good ideas when they don’t perceive their relevance to the performance of the organization

There are two factors that can improve your chance of being heard. First, the presenter should have a proven track record of contributions. Second, the organizational culture should allow an individual to feel that it’s safe to speak up. If these factors aren’t in place, keep reading.

In the article “Get the Boss to Buy In,” co-authors Ashford and Detert promote these seven tactics that they believe will win management attention and resources.

  1. Tailor your pitch. Understand where your audience stands on an issue. What does your audience find the most convincing or compelling? Craft your message to your audiences’ goals, values, and knowledge.
  2. Frame the issue. Connect the change you want to promote to the priorities of the organization. Link it to other initiatives that are receiving attention. Highlight how it creates opportunities for the organization. Lastly, describe or quantify the benefits.
  3. Manage emotions on both sides. To ensure your passion for a change doesn’t cross into negative emotions (anger or frustration) from others, anticipate responses before presenting it. Imagine how others might feel. To inspire positive emotions in the decision-makers, focus on the benefits of the change.
  4. Get the timing right. Present your pitch at the right moment. Are there other trends, current events, or deadlines you can relate it to? The more relevant, the more it will be heard.
  5. Involve others. Consider the allies in your network and how you can effectively involve them. Doing so builds coalitions and generates organizational buy-in as more people can contribute to energy and resources. However, it is important to determine who the potential blockers or “fence-sitters” are so you can find ways to gain their support.
  6. Adhere to the norms. Determine if the presentation should be informal or formal. Who is the audience? What delivery mechanism would be best? Although all organizations are different, studies show that progressing from informal discussions or personal conversations to more formal ones is one of the most effective ways to get buy-in.
  7. Suggest solutions. This shows that you thought about the issue and that you respect leaders’ time. When a solution isn’t readily available, consider suggesting a process by leveraging the knowledge and experience of others within the organization.

When conducting your next presentation, consider these tactics to get buy-in. You may be surprised at the results.


Ashford, S.J., and Detert, J. Get the Boss to Buy In.  Harvard Business Review OnPoint, 2015.