Surely you have seen many movies where a young employee (often a timid but intellectually gifted female) comes to her boss with an innovative idea, but he stops her in mid-sentence and sends her away. These situations are also quite common in real life, and I have regularly witnessed them myself. I have even taken part in them, back when I did not have my own business, and did not fully understand how important it was to appreciate initiative professionals.
Why you are not ready to present your idea
Suppose you have had an idea for developing or improving the business for a long time. However, you still would never dare present it to management. In that case, this article is for you. To begin with, let us analyse why many of us refuse to take the initiative, even if the manager calls us into their office, and we finally have a chance to talk face-to-face.
- The employee is unsure about their persuasion skills, believing their boss needs a unique approach. This is a common mistake because, in fact, the manager is just a human being like yourself. And your task is not to persuade them but to offer them the opportunity to receive greater benefits, or to solve a certain problem.
- The employee cannot manage their nerves and present their idea competently. Experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions, we often can’t think straight, stammer, etc. Still, it makes no sense laying everything out at once, otherwise you will overwhelm your boss. Instead, you need to organise your plans and conduct a full presentation like you present goods to customers.
The crucial thing to remember is that a manager, like any other listener, will not instantaneously get inspired by your idea. Therefore, you should not expect your manager’s eyes to light up immediately, as soon as you mention a few keywords like “profit” and “this will be useful.” You should present your information the same way you would if standing in front of a crowd. Therefore, without exception, I recommend that everyone develops their soft skills because this task is often impossible to handle without communication or public speaking skills.
If you feel that you are not ready yet to present your idea to your manager (due to lack of skills, emotional overwhelm, or other reasons), I advise you to start small. So small that no one immediately notices your participation and actions. Once you have proof that your idea works, with some results and a practical understanding of what you are doing, you will gain confidence and a real opportunity to impress your employer.
How to promote your idea no matter what: my top 5 tips
I will share tips that will boost your idea with incredible morale and give you the professional and physical support that any manager will surely be impressed with!
- Make sure the idea is in the best interests of the manager
It is a paradox, but it also happens that the manager simply does not want to improve the business. But why? Well, because they are going to sell it soon or quit and move to a more promising firm. Except you do not know about it. Therefore, just try to understand how they see the company’s future and whether they see any future at all. This can be done through discreet conversations about the company’s future and meetings about growth points, new products, etc. For example, suppose the product line is expanding, and the manager is constantly launching new projects and motivating the team to work even harder. In that case, they are interested in developing the business. Therefore, there really should not be any insurmountable obstacles in the way of your idea.
- Determine your manager’s psychological type
Even at school, talking with teachers, I realised that I had to find an individual approach to each one of them. After all, we are all different, and we have different needs. Some absorb information by ear, while others learn by reading. Some people require facts and figures, whilst others are moved by intuition and inspiration. To avoid making a mistake, start with the more salient facts and characteristics that will illustrate the benefits of your idea. Then, determine whether you should appeal more to facts or emotions based on the manager’s reaction. If the boss is more rational, it is better to skip the introduction and get straight to the point. If the boss is more emotionally driven, you can try the “talk to a child” approach: speak softly and use simple sentences, metaphors, and epithets as if you were in a school classroom.
A universal tactic for all personality types is to use high profile resonant examples, which are well known in the market. For example, say, “Company X did the same thing last March and is now number one in the country!”
- Enlist the support of the team
Generally, even the most profitable and promising idea will be passed up if the team categorically rejects it. However, it works the other way around, too. Suppose the team is inspired by your vision just like you are, confident in its success, and interested in the benefits. In that case, your manager may change their mind about it. So, before you approach your boss, share your proposal with your colleagues. It can still work even if you do not have very friendly relations with them. You just need to outline the benefits not only for the company but also for its employees. For example, mention that their salary will also increase along with the increase in sales. The team needs to understand why they need to support you and want to do it.
- Ask for support from more experienced professionals
Surely, your boss is not the only authority in your company. Find someone whose opinion they listen to, are close with, or have the same rank but are in a different department. Discuss your idea with them. If this person approves of it, it will be much easier to present your idea to your boss specifically because you have someone to rely on (“Mr N really liked my idea”). You can also ask for support from a more experienced professional if you are not sure about something or are at a dead end and need advice from others.
- Select potential team members in advance
It will be much easier for the manager to agree to your project if they understand exactly who will do it, the time frame, and what resources are needed. Then, after enlisting the team’s support, ask them who is ready to be directly involved in the project. You do not have to have a detailed written plan at hand. Still, it is important to know your future itinerary, responsibilities, and tasks. I prefer those employee initiatives that are already clear and understandable in terms of costs, aims, and actions.
And finally: be sure to arm yourself with statistics! Even if your employer tends to trust emotions rather than numbers, they will come in handy. The manager may not consider your proposal, not because they do not like it, but because the boss does not like you. Yes, this happens too. Ideally, the personal factor should not be reflected in a job, but, as I said before, we are all human. Therefore, you need to make the idea as attractive as possible in terms of benefits and, most importantly, explain it to your boss immediately, not at the end of your presentation. Likewise, be prepared to take responsibility not only for the success but also for mistakes. You will have to manage your own team, including all processes, and implement what you have promised to management. Are you sure you can handle it? Then go ahead! You will certainly succeed, and if something still does not work out, don’t forget that there are always Lectera courses to help you. 😉