More and more employers are encouraging their staff to be enterprising. Asking them to come up with ideas and solutions to help the organisation move forward. But if you have an idea how easy is it to put the idea forward and how can you make sure your boss not only loves the idea but you as well?
Have a plan and accept it may go wrong
An idea needs to be more than just an idea when you take it to your boss. It needs to be a well-considered idea, with a plan of action mapped out. You will need to be confident in your plan, but equally accept that it may not work out. Having an idea is great but accepting it may not yet be the perfect solution but rather a step towards that will really help your boss feel happier. Acknowledge that it may not be the finished deal but offer to work on it with the bosses support.
Choosing the right time to suggest it
Sometimes it is all in the timing. Rushing into your boss’s office full of excitement when they are in the middle of something important may lead to your idea being dismissed and you feeling rather deflated. Instead pick your time. Perhaps you could make an appointment to see your boss. Tell them how much time you think you will need and send an agenda for this time so that they know what to expect. This will help you to stay on message when you are talking to them as well. It will also help you avoid the over excited initial rush but ensure you offer a rational and considered solution.
Demonstrate that you have a strategy
When you suggest your idea it is good to have a plan. Explain how you see it working out, what you think may cause difficulties and how you think you will need to alter the plans to overcome that. It will help your boss feel more willing to move ahead as he or she can see it is not just a quick fire idea but rather a strategically considered plan. If you have a business plan drawn up this will give you even more kudos as it will show your commitment to the plan.
Point out what you need to succeed
If you don’t need anything other than the boss’s blessing to go ahead with your plan then this may stand you in better stead than if you have a long list of demands. Consider what you do need though and include it in your plan. If you need resource try and keep it to a minimum. If this is a trial and not something that is being implemented permanently then you want to ensure that you minimise the risk to the organisation however you do want the best chance of success.
Get commitment to trial your idea
Once your boss has bought in to the idea get some firm timelines agreed. When can you start, how long do you need to demonstrate the outcome of your ideas? Get some time frames agreed and a point at when you will carry out your first evaluation. Ask for support from the right people to ensure this works.
Evaluate and report on progress
If you are really passionate about your idea then no doubt you will know the results and outcomes at every step of the way however your boss will want to see real facts and figures. Make sure you document everything of significance – the highs and the lows and report back on the facts. It is hard when you are so close to a project to remove the emotion but you should only be dealing in the facts.
Be prepared to fail
Much as you want to be positive and focus on the success of your project you do need to consider a negative outcome. How will you learn from it if it doesn’t work out as planned or if your boss rejects it? Remember – the best success comes from failure. What went wrong and how can you rectify it? Perseverance and determination are often required to create success.
What have you got to lose?
If you are still unsure about approaching your boss even though you have a plan all mapped out and are confident about your idea then ask yourself what you have to lose. If nothing else putting your head above the parapet will ensure that your boss notices you and the fact that you showed initiative.
Accept you might not be the first
Many ideas that are put forward are not unique. You may not be the first person to have seen the opportunity or identified an idea. If this is the case the boss may seemingly reject your idea yet soon after announce they are doing something similar. This can of course be coincidence or that someone got there first. To avoid this ask when you give your ideas, is this unique, new or has someone had a similar idea before. Offer to work with the other person who has a similar idea as you may come up with an even better idea together.
Most of all, understand that being enterprising can have its knock backs but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.