10 Points On How To Present Ideas To Your Boss And Get Result
HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE FELT FRUSTRATED IN YOUR JOB BECAUSE you can’t get your boss to see things your way? You rant and rave and tell your colleagues or husband that your boss is an idiot.
But, think again. It may be you who is partly at fault. Maybe your ideas are just not presented in the right way. Maybe you have not communicated effectively enough to get results.
Bear in mind that the boss is a human being, and like any other human being, she can be influenced. She has her own share of concerns and difficulties in her job as a boss. She has an ego like you have and she wants to be made to feel good once in a while.
Your aim is to get the boss to give you what you want. Success in this area is a question of good communication skills. You also need to be armed with a lot of fact, a bit of strategy, a good deal of patience and confidence.
Getting the boss to agree with your ideas and act on them will, in the long term, require both parties to win. You can’t always get agreement all the time, but here are ten points to help you load the odds in your favor.
1. Start Off On A Positive Note
Obviously, putting a person in a negative and defensive mood from the very onset is not going to get you anywhere. How would you like somebody coming up to you every now and then to tell you that she has a problem? The next time you see her, you see a “problem child” and inevitably you will not feel very inclined to listen to her, much less be enthusiastic about what is to be discussed.
Start off with something casual, but appropriate, such as “How was your golf on Sunday?” Putting your boss at ease makes her feel relaxed and therefore more receptive to what is presented.
But if your boss is a no-nonsense type and is obviously thinking about work when you see her, “golf” is not such a good idea. In this case, just avoid starting off with anything negative.
2. Know What Your Objectives Are
Many of us have gone through a lot of sessions with the boss, groping in the dark and ending up not getting anywhere. Worse still, the boss may feel that you are wasting her time.
Most of the time, it is because the boss talked to you out of what you want to say or she out-talked you and run rings around you. Sometimes it could be because your mind just went blank, forgetting the speech that you have memorized diligently the last two days.
Focusing on your objectives and moving the discussion towards the bull’s eye is very important. Know what you want, beat around the bush a little if necessary, but don’t deviate from your purpose.
If you keep focused, it will not be easy for your boss to take the discussion into another plane. Ask yourself, “What do I want out of the meeting?” or “What do I want him to do?” before going into the discussion.
3. Know When To Present Your Ideas
If you are going to ask your boss for a raise, you are not going to choose a time when her husband just left her, or her last BMW just got smashed or when she has just finished giving a lecture to your errant colleague. Check the weather in her room and determine if the sun is shining or Typhoon Molly is raging, before you walk in.
Having a chat with her secretary will take you a long way. If there’s no secretary, ask the boss, “Can I take up some of your time?” and listen to (as well as watch) how she replies you. If the signs are not good, make an excuse and get out.
4. Present Supporting Facts and Figures, Not Just Opinion
Opinions are just opinions and without supporting facts and figures, it will hold very little water and can be easily subjected to challenges. Nobody can challenge valid facts and figures, not even the boss (unless she is just totally unreasonable).
Even if your boss normally values your opinion, you will look much better in her eyes if you have facts and figures to back up your opinion. Do some research and homework if necessary, and put your presentation or proposal together in a logical and convincing way. Telling the boss that you feel that staff’s morale is low, for example, without any supporting facts is going to lead to questions which you might not be able answer. You will not come off well as you will appear unprepared should this occur.
5. Anticipate Her reactions & Questions
If you have worked for your boss long enough, and if you have paid enough attention, you would be able to see a pattern of behavior, know how she will react and even questions that she is likely to ask. People are predictable and behave in particular ways under certain circumstances.
Plan your strategy before you see her.
I am not saying that you should memorize a script word for word but to formulate an approach based on anticipated reactions. Anticipating her possible responses and questions helps you to prepare yourself with suitable responses-responses that will satisfy her. In that way, you both win.
6. Empathize With Your Boss
The ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes helps you to fit your approach to that person’s needs and concerns. One should not communicate from one’s own point of view only, but with the other person in mind. Try to see the situation from her side and structure your communication to fit into her frame of mind.
Imagine, your boss asked you last week to look into the Photostat machine which is giving a lot of problems. You also know that just this week, she received a memo from head office asking all branches to cut cost. How do you think you’ll fare if you go up and say, “Excuse me, boss, you know the Photostat machine you asked me to look into? Teruk-lah. Must buy a new one – should cost about $6,500. Is that OK with you?”
I’m sure you’ll agree that you hardly stand a chance in getting your proposal approved.
What if you go this way?
“Excuse me, boss, you know the Photostat machine you asked me to look into? Well… I checked the maintenance record for the last six months and found that our average maintenance cost a month is $358. That is very high and it’s because we changed two drums in the last six months. The present drum is already beginning to wear off. I have also checked the cost per copy and I found that our average cost per copy is 7.2 cents. The normal should only be around four cents. I think we must do something about it… The installment for a new machine is only $425 a month. What do you think, boss? Should we look into a new one?”
What do you think? Certainly this manner of empathizing, providing facts and figures will give you better results.
7. Don’t bring Problems Without Possible Solutions
Back to the idea of not being a problem child. If you have to go to the boss with a problem, be sure to also have some possible solutions in mind. In this way, you showed that you have given the matter some thoughts.
You can influence her into agreeing to a particular, suggested solution by showing her your reasons behind it and the likely outcome of that particular alternative. To top it all, you can even make her feel that it is her idea.
You can do this by asking her, “Do you think we should…?” If she says yes, it becomes her idea. That way, you get a commitment. Never mind if it is actually you who put that idea in her head.
8. Provide Options, Alternative & Compromises If Necessary
Be ready with alternatives and do not stand fast and stubborn on to a particular option. If she accepts the idea, give her the leeway as to which particular choice she wants to make.
For instance, if you can get your boss to agree to buy a new Photostat machine, it may not be worthwhile insisting on a particular brand.
You should provide the pros and the cons, make your recommendations but leave it to her to decide.
9. Get Agreement By Asking Questions
This is a very powerful techniques in getting what you want. The idea here is to ASK, don’t TELL. No boss likes to be told anything. They do have their pride and ego and they agree to things easier if they are asked – and not told.
For example, don’t tell the boss that it is her responsibility to help you, should you have any problems. How about asking, “Boss, I understand that you have been in the company for many years, and if I need any help, I would like to come to you for your advice. Is that all right?” Which boss will ever say no?
Ask, don’t tell, and get agreement as your discussion proceed. You will find that by asking clever questions, you will be the one who is actually in control and will eventually get what you want.
10. Get Commitment By Fixing Specifics
The worse that could happen after doing all the above is to get agreement but no commitment at all.
It will be a waste of effort to leave a meeting with your boss with just her agreement to look into a certain matter but without a commitment as to when you can check back with her on the matter. To get results, get commitment. Anything will suffice as long as it is definite, for example the date as to when you can go back to her, or date for the meeting she agreed to hold or budget for the Photostat machine she agreed to.
Incidentally, you do not get her commitment by telling her… Ask for it without appearing to do so.
If you keeping in mind all these ten points, you should not have any difficulty in getting ideas to your boss with results as an outcome. The only factor is confidence. Having the self-confidence will ultimately decide whether you will win. To get confidence, ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen to you if you don’t get what you want?
Why worry? After all, if you never try, you’ll never know.