This is quite possibly the easiest method of participant buy-in you have in your arsenal.
In front of the group simply ask:
“Who feels they cannot improve <insert topic, i.e. communication> 10%?”
99.9% of the time, everyone will raise their hand. (This is not saying that the same people are not trying as hard as they can. Many are giving the 100% effort, but that does not mean they cannot improve. Sometimes you need to make the distinction.)
“Does everyone agree that improving 10% is a reasonable goal?”
Everyone will agree. After all we are not asking for a HUGE change, just a small one. You say something like:
“There are ‘X’ (i.e. 15 in the workshop) number of you here. So if each person improved 10%, that is a 150% improvement. What would our group be like with 150% overall improvement? How much better would our communication be? What else would be better? (Open up for discussion and create a specific list)
“So it sounds like everyone agrees that with just a small effort to improve from each person, we would all be much happier.”
“Each person will be responsible for their own improvement. You will each need to hold yourself accountable.”
At the end of the workshop, you can have everyone spend 15 minutes and write out how they will improve the 10%. Not simply “improve communication” or something generic, but the behaviors that will improve communication. Help them drill it down until they have something that they can act upon every single day.
Finally, ask for verbal agreement on what was decided, either individually accountable goals or new group decisions.
If there are new group agreements, be sure to set the stage for success:
“Let me be absolutely clear and make sure we all have the same expectation. If we agree to <insert here – for example, improving communication 10% by new behavior>, then what that really means is that 90% of the time, you will see me doing the same thing I have always done. A natural inclination will be to get upset and say to yourself and others, “See! We agreed to change and he isn’t doing it! I KNEW no one would stick to this…”
“You MUST expect and assume that everyone is doing their best and working on their 10%.”
Follow up on this would be coming back over time and having people tell stories and sharing how they see the 10% working. There will be MANY cases in which the new agreements are NOT working, but you must stay focused on the positive change to move forward.
I have used this with hundreds of groups and if you stick with it, assume the best, look for the positive change, you WILL see positive change happen.
Reference and Support: