Do you have a great idea or suggestion to solve a lingering problem at your company? If you find your ideas keep getting shot down by your boss, try going to your colleagues first.
You’ve been doing some thinking about an issue that’s relevant to your company and it keeps coming up in staff meetings. Then, at 3 a.m., you bolt upright in bed with the answer to this latest challenge. Your idea is practical, brilliant and you think it’s a win-win for you and the company.
When you finally get a chance to share your idea at the next meeting, you’re prepared for praise. Instead, your boss shoots the idea down — and nobody else jumps in to support you.
How did that happen?
Here are three mistakes to avoid and three simple fixes that top performers use to secure their big wins in situations like this. (Click here to tweet this list.)
Mistake #1: Taking your big idea straight to a large meeting
This simply isn’t the way most business gets done. If you want your idea to succeed, make sure you’re not catching potential supporters off-guard. When it comes to running a business, many people — especially bosses — tend to say no as an initial reaction when they’re surprised by a proposal.
The Quick Fix: Talk to peers (or even your boss) individually at first
Go to your colleagues in advance, share your idea and take time to make sure they have questions answered. If you do this right, you can ask for their support at the end of the conversation — and you’ll have a better chance of receiving it.
Taking your idea to the big meeting with a list of supporters already in place can exponentially increase your odds of its acceptance.
Mistake #2: Failing to listen and respond to feedback
Even good ideas can often be improved with input from others. Managers often see great ideas killed because the employee with the idea wasn’t flexible enough to incorporate feedback from peers.
No single person has the market cornered when it comes to new suggestions. The bigger your idea is, the more it requires the whole team to shape and implement it.
The Quick Fix: Always ask for feedback, and genuinely be open to it
Not everyone is comfortable sharing feedback, especially when it’s negative, so make it easy for your colleagues. Underscore that you need feedback, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. Then provide multiple ways for your peers and bosses to provide feedback.
Having an in-person conversation and following-up with an email that has the specifics of your proposal can be helpful in many cases. The more feedback you can get and incorporate, the stronger your proposal will be.
Mistake #3: Assuming that an initial “no” decision means you should give up
Hearing “no” from your boss can mean many different things. Sometimes it means you have a really bad idea that will never see the light of day; it can also mean your boss has lingering questions about implementation, feasibility, cost or any number of other factors. Sometimes it means the timing is bad, but the idea could work in six months or a year.
The Quick Fix: Use negative feedback as an opportunity to learn
Don’t be afraid to ask your boss why he or she said no. Offer your assurance that if it’s truly a bad idea, you’ll drop the issue and re-focus on other areas of importance to the company.
If you get encouragement that you weren’t too far off track, ask if you can bring the idea back around later. Suggest you could keep working on details and re-pitch it once you’ve addressed the critical concerns. Ask if there are key stakeholders who can provide feedback to improve the quality of your future efforts.
By following these simple steps, you can earn the respect you deserve and save your good ideas from being casually tossed aside.
Have you had experience pitching a great idea to your boss? Leave a comment below to share what approach you used and how it turned out.
Steve Monte is a career strategy coach who uses outside-the-box techniques to help young professionals get hired, get promoted, and get paid the big bucks. More information about his work can be found at www.CatchYourBigBreak.com.